Starlight uses the power of play to make the experience of illness and treatment better for children and their families. Our passion takes us to the bedsides of some of the most poorly children in the UK. In hospital, often without hope of leaving. We create moments of escape from the difficult reality which seriously ill children find themselves. To delight and distract. To entertain and enlighten. But, most of all, to restore a smile to their faces. Making moments of light when the day is at its darkest.
In 2021, we reached over 1.2 million children in almost 500 hospitals across the UK. We distributed 4,481 Distraction Boxes and Boost Boxes, and 207 gaming bundles. We welcomed 202 families to the return of our in-person events, whilst still supporting 302 children at home with our virtual parties and resources.
But our impact goes well beyond these numbers. Inspired by our role as Protectors of Play, together we’ve continued to find new ways to meet the needs of seriously ill children, their families and health professionals by listening and learning – always ready to respond to the world around us.
Find out more in our 2021 Impact Report.
Who we are
All kinds of people make up the Starlight team. Play experts who create Boost Boxes and Distraction Boxes for kids in hospitals. Actors and storytellers who put on unforgettable shows in children’s wards nationwide. Fundraisers who are on hand to help you achieve incredible things in aid of Starlight. We’re all here for the same reason – to help seriously ill children have the best childhood possible.
We do everything we can to protect childhood for seriously ill children. That’s been the case since 1986, when Emma Samms and Peter Samuelson founded Starlight. Emma had fundraised to help her young friend Sean, who had a brain tumour, visit Disneyland. She saw the impact that trip had not just on Sean, but on his whole family. Emma decided to set up a children’s charity so many more kids and families could feel the same way – and Starlight was born.
The memory of a childhood illness can impact for life. If we can make it a little bit more interesting, they may not have such awful association with their illness or experience.