Gold Coast hospital radio station Radio Lollipop is back on air but organisers are desperate for donations to enable them to carry on providing their vital service throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Gold Coast University Hospital’s branch of the international charity, which provides comfort and entertainment for children in hospital, was forced to shut its doors in March due to strict COVID safe restrictions.
Radio Lollipop east coast charity coordinator Tani Bloudell said 40 volunteers returned to the children’s ward studio on July 13, but said the charity needed additional support and funding to continue operating during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 has hit us hard and we can’t survive COVID-19 without help,” Ms Bloudell said.
“We desperately need donations as fundraising opportunities, like Bunnings barbecues and event days at the Gold Coast University Hospital, are going to limited for the foreseeable future,” she said.
To raise funds, Radio Lollipop Gold Coast has launched a “Uniform Free Day” campaign and is encouraging schools and workplaces to dress up for the day to support sick kids.
Rather than setting a designated day for the event, the charity are keen for participants to choose a suitable date to hold their event on, which makes it a very flexible fundraising option to get involved with.
They are also encouraging participants to choose their own dress up theme for the day.
“We encourage the community to be creative in their choice of clothes and [to] collect gold coin donations,” Ms Bloudell said.
“They can do their charity event on any day or time and choose the theme.
“You can be uniform free, wear something red, dress up as superheroes or have a pyjama party,” she said.
“The options are endless.
“We want everyone to get creative and help us raise vital funds.
“One in four children are admitted to hospital before the age of 14, so we need your help to spread smiles and entertainment for many years to come.”
Gold Coast University Hospital director of paediatrics Dr Sue Moloney said she was glad to have the Radio Lollipop service back after lockdown because it was a “vital helping hand” in patient recovery.
“When volunteers were stood down as part of our physical distancing strategy, we really noticed them missing,” Dr Moloney said
“Thinking about things other than the reasons for being in hospital is very important in the recovery process.”
The organisation has helped more than 13 million children worldwide since making its first broadcast in 1979, and now operates in 26 hospitals across five countries.
Mrs Bloudell said paediatric patients could not refuse medication or needles during their stay at the hospital, but said Radio Lollipop gave children a choice to request their favourite songs, make craft, play games, win prizes and contribute to a radio show.
Four-year-old Max Walter lives with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), a rare gastrointestinal allergy condition, and is admitted to hospital several times each month.
Mum Alex Walter said hospital admissions without a “Radio Lollipop distraction” was proof the charity was important.
“He deals with needles, tests and awful things during the day and at night he gets his reward of a Radio Lollipop visit,” Ms Walter said.
“Living without that joy, during the restrictions, took a toll on our mental health because the hospital environment was very clinical and isolating.
“It’s a relief to have them back now – the crew are our second family.”
The Radio Lollipop volunteers are aged from 18 to 85 and are often former patients who want to give back to the charity.
Radio host Erin Condrin said Radio Lollipop was a “haven” for sick kids.
“From my experience, hospital is a scary place and you need memories other than needles and doctors,” Ms Condrin said.
“Lollipop is a haven of normality and it needs to stay”.
To register your school or workplace to hold a Uniform Free Day, contact Radio Lollipop Gold Coast on 0407 843 313.
For more information about Radio Lollipop, visit www.radiolollipop.org.