25 Apr

Star Wards Newsletter – Spring 2017


Welcome back to the Spring 2017 edition of Imagine, the Star Wards Newsletter dedicated to our members!

Well people, it’s official. After twelve effervescent, transcendent and resplendent years at the head of Star Wards, Marion and Buddy have officially stepped down. I think many of you have noted the gradual easing up over the last year, but I can now confirm that the parks of North London are being well visited by the pocket-sized genius and a bevvy of rescue dogs. You can even follow their progress on www.daisychain.org.uk. Look out for a special tribute feature to Marion and Buddy very soon – and be reassured, they will always be lauded and loved on these pages.

In this packed springy edition of Imagine you will find:

> ‘Spring Into A Story’ and other ward activities

> Wards Get Walking

> A Triple Monty

> Time To Talk Day

> Harrison House

News from Star Wards HQ:

> Animal Magic

> Nina’s Blog

> Ask Buddy

As Spring comes to the UK, let us warm you up with news of fabulous people and practice in the Star Wards family. Over the past few months we have also had welcome interest in Star Wards from services as far away as Canada and Australia.

Whoever and wherever you are, we hope this newsletter inspires your imagination as we once again celebrate our extraordinary supporters in difficult time doing amazing things. Keep up all your brilliant, therapeutic, inspiring work – you’re our heroes and we’re here to support and enthuse about you.



Spring Activities

‘Blooming’ Pointless National Holidays!


We know that where you work can be hectic and busy and that finding time for therapeutic activities can seem like a big task. No need to be daunted! This newsletter is full of examples of activities that you can try, that are easy to start and fun to do!

As ever, let’s begin with a list of Pointless National Holidays that you could use; as a conversation starter, organise a themed ward day or as part of your therapeutic on-ward activity sessions?

27th April –

Tell a Story Day. (Ideas below in our “Spring Into A Story” feature)

4th May –

Star Wars Day (“May the force/May the Forth – get it!!). Star Wars for Star Wards!

And it’s also Bird Day! Something for every taste? 

30th May –

Water a Flower Day

16th June –

Fresh Veggies Day

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 13.11.38

There are more examples of Pointless National Holidays at www.wardipedia.org.uk. Have you created your own National day on your ward? Please share them with us! Get in touch with Sam– [email protected]

Spring Into A Story

As the sun shines a bit warmer and the buds start to open, your patients can find whole new worlds on the ward! A ward stay can give them the opportunity to pick up that book they never quite got around to finish reading or finally take the time to read War and Peace/The complete Harry Potter/ The Famous Five on A Hike Together.

There are plenty of creative ways for you to get your ward reading (and we know of some areas that even have sessions of creative writing and patients creating their own stories.)

Kindles, e-readers and the internet are all easy ways of having a ward library without even purchasing a bookcase! They offer plenty to read, and there are ways to find cheap editions such as the “Book Bub” service.

Star Wards members just like you have found other cheap and brilliantly creative options to get access to books such as; a mobile library service run by a volunteer, staff bring in their old books for the ward library, local libraries donating decommissioned books to the wards and the creation of a mini self-help library.

More examples of how to ‘Spring Into A Story’ on your ward can be found on Wardipedia.

Wards Get Walking

With so much to see at this time of year; nature coming alive, flowers in bloom and (slightly) warmer weather, weekend walks sound like a fab idea! Patients and staff at The Glenbourne Unit ( part of the “Livewell Southwest”) shared on Twitter all about their ‘Weekend Walking Group’ run by ward staff.



The tweet reminded Geoff of the time he helped designed four “walking leaflets” for his unit in London. The idea was that each walk could be completed in under half an hour. As we are totally into “nickable practices”, why not design your own for your ward or Unit. Is there a local park nearby? Where do the patients recommend for a relaxing time? Or you could be even more creative and research the local area for interesting sights. Of course, if you do, we would LOVE to hear how it went.

Word From The Wards

There are over 600 of you incredible Star Wards members all across the globe! All of us here at Star Wards are always really chuffed to hear from you about the amazing activities that happen everyday on your ward. ‘Word From The Wards’ is the section of the newsletter dedicated to sharing your wards news.

Marvellous Mowbray, Brilliant Bronte and Super Shelley


Mowbray Ward in Sunderland have recently become very happy Full Monty  achievers. Their Star Wards project has given Sam Brooke and team (pictured above) a real sense of achievement and pride while providing something to get their teeth into. It’s helping fine-tune the focus of the care they provide to optimise effectiveness, safety and inclusivity, says Sam. “We found the Star Wards benchmarking process straight-forward and empowering…” Well done Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust!

And guess what! Mowbray have a walking group that walks on the local beaches!

Read more about Nic Higham’s visit to the ward here

Bronte and Shelley wards at Cygnet Hospital Bierley (Bradford) also recently received their well deserved Full Monty Award! The team told us that completing the Star Wards 75 ideas had been a “great way of pulling the team together”, which is just what we LOVE to hear!

On his visit, Geoff was blown away by what the ward had achieved and their desire to do even more! As you can see Geoff met the very proud Andy, Hannah, Carmel and Neil to give them the award.

Read more here

You’re All Fab!


At Star Wards HQ we have been hugely impressed by all the positive news we’ve heard about ward activities at Langley Green (part of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust). Their hand painted mural is especially impressive and we featured it in the last newsletter!  Amber Ward (@LGH_PICU) tweeted a photo of the of the badge we sent to say “thank you” to Janine Clark, the wards Therapeutic Activities Co-ordinator who told us about the mural . Wasn’t that nice of her and the Ward.



Talking of Activities, we also got a fab message from Sarah Holtom, who is an Inpatient Senior Practitioner in Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Sarah told us about the Moorside Unit’s “recovery-based activity team”, which provides a range of glorious ward activities and has lovely features – like volunteers providing sessions and patient choice and evaluation. They have even organised a stand-up comedy event on their PICU!

Read more about this fantastic service and the feedback they received from a grateful recipient in a blog Sarah very kindly wrote for us here.

..and do let us know if YOU have a great example of activities on your ward.



Time To Talk day is an event from Time To Change which promotes a reduction in the stigma of Mental Health by encouraging us to all get talking about our Mental Health. As ever, our wonderful supporters snapped up the chance to join in!

The SAFIRE team from the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust served up a treat on Time To Talk Day. Here you can see Rachel and Emma serving up pizza and quizzes to get everyone talking about their Mental Health. The SAFIRE team were encouraging everyone to talk about ways to tackle stigma. For staff; wellbeing sessions were set up offering a chat and wellbeing support.

‘Cazzie’ (the occasional pirate featured in previous newsletters!) is one of the fab activity coordinators from Harrison House (part of NAViGO in Grimsby). ‘Cazzie’ tweeted a photo of the  impressive spread laid on for their Afternoon Tea event on Time To Talk Day. Cazzie reported ‘the event was a huge success’ and that is in part to the impressive menu on offer to patients and staff; Home Baked Scones and Ceylon Leaf Tea.

Geoff Tours Super Harrison House!


Talking of Harrison House, Geoff recently visited and was given a tour by Freedom, the wonderful and passionate Ward Manager on the older adult unit. During his tour Geoff got the feeling that Harrison House are a little bit into Star Wards!

Their display showcases the brilliant ways they have adapted and are using the Star Wards ideas to make their Wards incredibly therapeutic places. Another “nickable practice”?

If you would like to share any pictures, quotes or news about the fab activities happening on your ward – we would love to hear from you! You can tweet us; @starwards, find us on Facebook, or email Sam.

News from Star Wards HQ


Say Hello (Woof!) to Animal Magic


A big waggy welcome to our brand new website, Animal Magic! Animal Magic was inspired by the fabulous fundraisers to the Guardian Christmas Appeal in 2014. The website is dedicated to inspiring wards to welcome fluffy, furry and friendly companions to visit (and stay).

Animal Magic is filled with handy hints, tips and myth busting information about having animals visit your ward. We would love to hear examples, stories, ideas and photos of your #AnimalMagic and the animal visitors to your ward.


Blog: Responding to Anxiety and Depression Conference


Our Associate Service User Consultant Nina, has recently written a blog on the latest impressive conference she has independently organised. “As mental health education is key to the continuation of the collective acceptance of mental health, I have decided to dedicate lots of my time to organising mental health conferences aimed at clinicians, teachers, parents and anyone else who is interested.”

Read more at www.CAMHeleon.org, our best practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services website 

Ask Buddy!


We love this feature, it allows our wonderful current (or potential!) members to ask ‘Buddy’ a question! While it is true that Buddy has stepped down from everyday Star Wards work, we have persuaded her to stay on and answer your questions.

Buddy recently received a question by email, our Facebook members and Sam helped answer the question for Buddy.



Hello! I am an OT working on an acute mental health ward. I am setting up an activity timetable at present and would like to find services (eg yoga or art, etc) where external individuals could come in to do sessions. However, at a reduced fee or concessionary/ voluntary. Do you have any guidance or signposting to organisations that may be able to support this?



Hi, thank you for getting in touch with us here at Star Wards. Hopefully we can answer your question. I did interview Sam about this to get the real up to date info and this is what he told me.

“Where I work we often have talented individuals, groups and services that visit us to provide sessions for the ward. We’re extremely lucky that this includes an Arts in Health Coordinator who provides lots of activities that we can share on our ward”

Do you have a community worker with a similar job role who you could contact? This might be a community OT or STaR worker. Or perhaps you can take some inspiration from the activities work of Sarah Holtom in the “Your All Fab” section above. Sarah has also managed to get external help and may have advice for you. Sarah’s contact details are in her blog on our website, if you would like to contact her.

What is also really valuable to know from Sam’s Arts in Health Coordinator is the success in applying for funding for sessions. Where you work do you have your own charitable funds team? They may be able to provide small amounts of funding for you to use to provide a one off or a running programme of sessions.

Sam tells me dropping an email or letter to local service providers often puts you in touch with a network of professionals who have services they can offer, sometimes for free! Examples of these could be; Recovery Colleges, Community Disability Centres and Organisations such as; Local Arts Council, Sport Associations or Gardening Associations.

He’s a clever lad, that Sam. I do hope this gives you some food for thought.

Love, Buddy.

We’re All Ears!

As part of our Community Newsletter,
we would like to connect with you!

Please do get in touch, you can even write to us with a Guest Blog of your experiences of mental health wards or Star Wards.

Click here to contact us

Thank you for being you!

We’re thrilled that you’re a Star Wards member and we want you to know how deeply impressed we are by all the creative, therapeutic work you do. We hope you’ve found ideas in this newsletter which you’ll want to introduce today!


Sam and the Star Wards team