Lockdown has been a tough time for all of us. We’ve been forced into months of solitude, bombarded with countless number of restrictions and guidelines. Children have been one of the prime victims of this drastic turn of events. Lockdown has been a real pain, and for those children in hospital beds, in desperate need of some affection and support, the experience has been equally (if not more) daunting. Consequently, many charities are striving to make these childrens’ lives more magical, working to offer moments of bliss and escapism from their difficult days. But one charity is at the forefront of it all: Merlin’s Magic Wand. 


Ms. Amanda So works with her colleague Mrs Justine Crowther at Merlin’s Magic Wand as a Magical Programmes Manager. Ms. So worked at Merlin’s Entertainment for over 15 years. But at the beginning of 2021, she transitioned from Merlin’s Entertainment to Merlin’s Magic Wand. And to find out more, I interviewed them. 

Ms. So’s job is to organise three programmes. The first programme is called ‘Magical Days Out’, where Merlin’s Magic Wand will work with different organisations and charities to provide tickets for unwell children so that they can enjoy themselves at certain attractions. The second programme entails going into places like hospitals and hospices to create little themed zones for children in bedrooms, playrooms and gardens. Then Ms.So will work with local suppliers to build and deliver these spaces for the children.

But unfortunately, there are some children who can’t physically make it to the programmes being conducted, hindered by tough circumstances. But the solution was simple. “We take the magic of an attraction to children by travelling right to their doorstep.” said Ms. So “If the children like LEGO, we conduct LEGO-building sessions with model builders, or we conduct face-painting slots with some of our artists. And while we may not be magicians ourselves, we try to make children’s experiences with us as magical as possible.”


While talking, I noted that Merlin’s Magic Wand evidently cared a lot about supporting children who were facing challenges of serious illness, disability or adversity.

 “Working at this charity,” Mrs Crowther explained, “is really rewarding because I not only get to do my job properly, I get to say that I made a real difference to these children, making their lives more magical. The satisfaction you get from helping the children is, in my opinion, the best part of the job!”

Ms. So further chipped in with the following: “And I think that’s partly the reason we have so many supporters around the world. For example, we are in touch with certain charity champions, who essentially help raise awareness by locally arranging events while partnering with us for these events.”

But the real question was yet to be answered. 


The pandemic has been an emotional and a financial rollercoaster for everyone, sparking prolonged periods of isolation for many people. But while most businesses might focus on the downsides, Merlin’s Magic Wand took on a different perspective. “I think it’s quite hard not to talk about how the pandemic has had a negative impact on our company, especially with the closing down of many of our attractions,” said Ms. So, “but I think it’s also been the prime instigator in raising awareness about us. With lots of people being on furlough, I think it’s given them more time to look at our processes and to look at what we’re doing, which wouldn’t have normally been possible.”

One of the biggest changes everyone has faced is the transition from face to face interaction to doing everything virtually. The idea of doing things virtually has been brought upon us by this pandemic, but it doesn’t have to be a negative aspect of lockdown. 

While many of the magical programmes for Merlin’s Magic Wand aren’t still taking place, the charity has made a presence online. In Australia, the charity has come up with an ingenious idea to continue interacting with children. “We had an event where we streamed a live trip to the zoo to thousands of children in hospitals across Sydney.” said Mrs Crowther. “So the children saw all the animals in the zoo through the hospital TVs, and they could mark off different animals they saw on paper.” 

Many other interactive events have taken place online during the course of the pandemic, and for Merlin’s Magic Wand, the pandemic itself has been a huge learning point. Pre-booking tickets was introduced last year so that the number of staff needed for certain programmes could be managed beforehand. “CoVID has taught us to prioritise being safe, by regularly sanitizing and hand-washing. But while this has been something we’ve always been doing (since we frequently visit children with weak immune systems), we’ve had to reinforce this even further, by being very particular about the number of children we book tickets for.”


Merlin’s Magic Wand, like many other charities worldwide, is striving to support struggling children globally. But as well as directly delivering programmes to struggling children, the charity partners and works with other organisations to deliver as much of a magical experience to these children as possible. And during these extremely difficult and uncertain times, everyone could do with some love and support, but especially those who regularly cope with adversities and disabilities. Just paying a quick visit to the website itself to chip in a fiver is a small help we can all afford to do…

Merlin’s Magic Wand website: https://www.merlinsmagicwand.org/