Many of you know that I support a charity very close to my heart- Christmas For CAMHS. I volunteered with social media and raising awareness. A few years ago, it got charity status and this is so exciting but it still needs your help and donations, so read on as to why its so important to me and those children in hospital!
In 2004, when I was just 16, i was admitted to an NHS CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health unit) at the Priory Hospital North London for depression and psychosis- part of my bipolar disorder on Christmas Eve. Even though I am Jewish, I remember opening a wrapped present (can’t remember what it was) that the staff had organised for us out of their budget. The other patients also left me notes and cards. But the truth is there was no charity giving us presents and we were away from our families, all very ill- so the staff just did the very best they could under the circumstances.
Then, in 2018, I heard about a charitable enterprise set up by a lovely doctor and trainee child psychiatrist called Ro who wanted to do something about the lack of equality children in mental health units had. She and her volunteers were sending presents to children on CAMHS wards across the UK and asking for donations.
Christmas For CAMHS is a registered charity who provides special Christmas gifts every year for children and young people who are inpatients in child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) wards across the UK over the Christmas holiday period.
They want to make children and young people who are inpatients over the festive season feel thought-about, special and included – our individual gifts for each young person to keep, as well as gifts for their ward, help us to do this.
They have been hugely supported over the past few years by generous donations from the public and have received much gratitude as a result from inpatient units. However, they are only able to provide gifts with your charitable donations.
To find out how you can donate money or gifts please visit their donations page to see the Justgiving page and Amazon gift list.
Christmas For CAMHS was originally set up because volunteers saw a huge disparity in the way CAMHS units were treated over the festive period compared to other NHS services for children and young people. They wanted to do something to change that.
Children are admitted to CAMHS units to receive support and treatment for mental health issues, such as psychosis or depression or eating disorders like anorexia. There are no official figures for how many children will spend the festive season in CAMHS units across the UK, though we often give gifts to over 1500 young people. While many members of the public and corporate donors give Christmas gifts to children’s hospitals or children’s wards in general hospitals, CAMHS units, which are usually based away from other services, are often forgotten, or not known about. We don’t think this is right.
Every year they talk to every CAMHS unit in the UK to see what gifts their young people would like. Then, with your generous donations, they buy beautiful and thoughtful gifts for young people in almost every unit across the country.
We also include, where possible, some small fidget toys, a gift for the ward like a board game or sports equipment, some activities to do during the festive period and extra gifts for particularly vulnerable young people who are looked after children or who have a refugee background. We also send them an advent calendar full of inspiring quotes and pictures of cute pets. Sometimes we’re able to include a homemade card or two too.
The gifts are assembled at a packing weekend in Bath by our volunteer elves and then whizzed around the country in plenty of time for Christmas! As a charitable organisation, we rely 100% on fundraising and your generous donations. Each penny goes directly to making the magic happen.
So please, support Christmas For CAMHS- if you can donate a gift or money that would be incredible. As a former child patient, the loneliness you feel is unbearable-lets work together to stop the inequality and forgotten children!