Music therapy brings moments of joy for children with life-threatening conditions

The power of music is helping seriously unwell children at a north London hospice express themselves, enjoy play and create precious moments with their families.

Music therapy is being offered to babies, children and young people with life-limiting or life threatening conditions at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice, in Barnet.

It says the activity has a marked effect in allowing children who often have to endure prolonged hospital treatment to build their confidence, communication skills and trust in adults.

The activity is funded through an £86,000 grant over two years from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“It’s very clear from the feedback from parents just how vital the work of Noah’s Ark is in providing clinical, practical and emotional support to children and families faced with the unimaginable challenge of dealing with serious illness at such a young age.

“The ability of music to effect emotional change is well known, and these sessions have a powerful impact on children, offering respite from the daunting cycle of hospital treatment and creating some really precious memories for the children and their families.”

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice was founded in 1999 and two years ago opened The Ark, a new purpose-built hospice providing 24-hour end-of-life, post-death and bereavement care, overnight stays and sensory music and art rooms.

The City Bridge Trust funding is also being used to provide therapy for siblings of children who are seriously ill, offering them the chance to express their emotions in a safe environment.

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice Marketing and Communications Manager Natasha Davis Whitehead said:

“For many of the children who come to us, a lot of their short life is spent having hospital treatment and dealing with the side-effects, and they don’t have much time to just be children.

“The music therapy really improves their mental wellbeing – they are much happier after the sessions – and it gives them the chance to relax and to take their minds off their condition for a while.

“It’s about creating moments of genuine happiness and joy for the children and their families, where children can play, express themselves and build their confidence.”

People can find more information about Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice and make a donation to support its work at www.noahsarkhospice.org.uk

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study – ‘Rocco absolutely loves it at The Ark’

Rocco is four and Noah’s Ark Children's Hospice has been part of his family’s life since he was six months old, after he was diagnosed with Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy – a life-limiting condition which affects all his muscles and means he has very limited mobility.

Thanks to the care and support provided by Noah’s Ark, Rocco has gained greater independence and has been able to access opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible, including starting at mainstream school.

Rocco is a regular visitor at The Ark’s Stay and Play sessions, making use of the facilities in the sensory, soft play and creative rooms and taking part in music therapy and specialist care.

He also enjoys the newly-installed sensory trail and accessible pathway around The Ark’s 7.5-acre nature reserve, where he can often be seen whizzing around in his specially-made TinyTrax wheelchair.

Rocco’s mum, Kimberley, said: “Rocco absolutely loves it at The Ark. When I dropped him off recently, all he said was ‘Bye mum. Go home!’

“It’s so important for any child to experience nature and the outdoors, and Rocco is no different. The new accessible pathway around the nature reserve allows him to do exactly that. It’s not something that he has been able to do before and it’s so exciting for him.”

Picture captions

- Four-year-old Rocco with Kelsey McDermott, a Specialist Carer at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice

- City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile, dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, founded in 1097 to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

Bridge House Estates is responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges, and its charity funding arm City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – gives out over £25 million a year to good causes across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk