YOUNG patients receiving care at one Durham City hospital have been handed a vital boost after charitable council staff donated collections of toys and equipment.

Kind-hearted members of Durham County Council’s DurhamWorks team have spent the last couple of weeks collecting gifts and essential equipment for the Tree Tops ward and Children’s A&E department of University North Durham Hospital. 

In their day-to-day roles, the DurhamWorks team link with unemployed young people aged 16 to 24 years old, helping them be successful in gaining education, training and employment opportunities.

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In the run-up to Christmas, it gifted pyjamas to children in the region’s hospitals as part of a festive charity appeal and staff have chosen to continue their acts of goodwill with further donations to worthy causes throughout the year.

During the last two weeks, the team collected £115 through generous donations.

The money has now been used to purchase four children’s potties to ensure that young children felt happy to use the toilet facilities whilst in the hospital’s care.

The Northern Echo: DurhamWorks employment engagement officer Hannah Fenwick (right), handing over charity donations to play coordinator for University North Durham Hospital’s Tree Tops ward, Jill Boyd (left). Picture: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL.DurhamWorks employment engagement officer Hannah Fenwick (right), handing over charity donations to play coordinator for University North Durham Hospital’s Tree Tops ward, Jill Boyd (left). Picture: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL.

They also bought a range of gifts, toys and arts and crafts sets to improve the patient experience and make the departments less intimidating for their young visitors.

Hannah Fenwick, DurhamWorks employer engagement officer, who has become part of the charitable effort, has said that these donations are all about “welcoming children” into hospital environments.

She said: “We are so pleased to be able to support the children and young people’s services at University Hospital North Durham. It’s a great feeling to know that our donations can make a child’s visit or stay more comfortable and welcoming.”

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DurhamWorks, which is funded by the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative, is a partnership programme between Durham County Council, Groundwork North East & Yorkshire, Springboard North East and Cornforth Partnership.

The team also offers support to help young people develop the skills required to become self-employed, including matching young people with employer mentors and can also help to identify volunteering opportunities.

The programme, which has already supported 8,700 young people, aims to support another 4,500 young people before it concludes at the end of December 2023.

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Following the donation to the hospital, Pat Chambers, charity development manager at Your NHS Charity, has thanked DurhamWorks and has assured donors that their work will go towards helping hundreds of children in the region.

She said: “We are thoroughly delighted to have received this wonderful donation and much-needed support from the team at DurhamWorks for our children’s wards and clinics at University Hospital of North Durham.

“We welcome businesses, organisations or individuals getting in touch if they can help us, as with over 500 children per week passing through just our paediatric emergency unit alone, we go through an awful lot of toys.

"People can donate throughout the year and our departments and visitors are always extremely grateful for support.”

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