Chalkhill Activities During Covid-19

Chalkhill is the only in-patient hospital for children and young people with complex mental health problems in Sussex. The young people attend school whilst staying at Chalkhill, helping them to develop the skills they will need upon leaving hospital. Thanks to a generous grant from Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, we have been able to deliver inpatient kit and equipment to ease boredom and isolation during lockdown, and a revised activities programme to overcome Covid-19 restrictions.

In the initial response to the pandemic, external group facilitators, visitors and outside professionals were unable to visit Chalkhill, and young people were unable to leave. Rockinghorse swiftly liaised with Heads On and created an emergency grant to fund kit and equipment that young people in hospital could use and benefit from during this time of isolation.

This equipment included portable DVD players, MP3 players, digital radios, tablets, books, films, art equipment including tie dye kits and graffiti art with canvases, along with garden equipment (wheelbarrows, wooden planters, bird feeders, hedgehog igloos).

Isolation corridor

This equipment has been used in a number of ways. At the height of the pandemic, an isolation corridor was set up, and each room was equipped with a portable DVD player, a tablet, an MP3 player and a digital radio. In addition, young people were each given an isolation kit which included fiction books, pens, cards, puzzle books, mindfulness colouring books and more.

Reading group

At the start of the lockdown period, young people requested a weekly reading group. In this group young people can choose to bring texts, short stories or poems to read out loud or just come and listen to others. This has inspired several young people to write poetry outside the group which through creative self-expression impacts on their personal recovery journey.

Art equipment

Having an ongoing supply of arts and crafts equipment is vitally important for young people to creatively and meaningfully choose how to spend their free time. Chalkhill received new paints and pencils, sketchbooks, scrap books and beautiful mindfulness colouring books, as well as the graffiti art and tie-dye kits mentioned earlier.

Garden equipment

The garden equipment has allowed Chalkhill staff to provide more activities outside in the garden, such as planting and creating a wildlife garden. This was so important when young people were not permitted to go outside of the hospital building.

Ward activities

Using Rockinghorse funding, staff have been able to continue to offer the weekly in-house groups. These include art groups, horticulture groups and sports groups, as well as independent living skills and weekend activities such as baking.

External facilitators

Chalkhill have thought creatively and continue to offer therapeutic groups from their skilled outside group facilitators where possible. This has been important both to minimise disruption and make connections with the outside world during these very unprecedented and uncertain times. This has worked well for yoga and music groups, with yoga classes and music sessions available virtually.

Being in hospital can be a very difficult time for young people, which arguably this is more distressing with the restrictions. Rockinghorse have provided invaluable support by funding the equipment and activities mentioned.

“Witnessing a patient thoroughly absorbed and enjoying these wonderful workshops and activities, utterly distracted from their mental health problems, is fantastic to see and has can have a lasting impact on their recovery”. Emily, Occupational Therapist at Chalkhill.

How you can help

Whether you make a donation, attend an event or fundraise for us, every penny will help make life better for people with mental health problems.