Comfort Clowns

In 2014, Hearts & Minds were approached by Maggie's Centre, Dundee to take part in their Kids’ Days - these are days dedicated to supporting children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer and are receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

Children in this situation can experience a number of feelings, including:

  • loss of control
  • hopelessness
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • frustration
  • withdrawal
  • aggression

In collaboration with Lesley Howells (Centre Head and Consultant Clinical Psychologist) and the children attending the Kids’ Days, we developed a bespoke therapeutic clowning programme called 'Comfort Clowns', using play, laughter and the arts to demystify cancer and its treatment.

The programme aims to support children, and their families, who are experiencing severe emotional pain and distress, by creating an open, playful, safe and accepting space in which they can open up about their worries and concerns, ask questions about their loved one’s treatment and explore painful events through the natural medium of play. We deliver the Comfort Clowns programme at Maggie's Centre, Dundee, four times a year.

Through play therapy, children can develop a more positive view of their situation, their anxiety is reduced, and their trust and autonomy nurtured. Play is second nature to children and helps them emotionally and psychologically. Using the naivety of the clown, we help children to understand what is going on and to create a feeling of safety, mutual support and friendship.

Each of our visits is referral based, through a senior member of staff from Maggie’s Centre. This allows us to gain some background on each child and target our approach to make the most of our day together.