A day in the life of our Health Play Services Manager

A day in the life of Rhiannon, Health Play Services Manager

What is a typical day for you?

There’s quite a wide range of stuff - I spend quite a lot of time meeting with people from across Starlight, and our partners, on a wide range of projects. I also spend a lot of time managing our finances and the operational ‘back end’ of service delivery, as well as working with the fundraising team to support applications. Now I’m focused on preparing and planning for the 24-25 financial year and developing our service delivery review process to ensure we have a robust framework of evaluation for services.

I also spend a lot of time supporting my team on various projects that they’re working on – I feel lucky to work with people with such a strong skillset, with Lizzie (Health Play Services) looking after all things box development and logistics, and David (Service Data Officer) ensuring all our data is up to scratch. I’m excited for the next year and what this looks like for Health Play Services!

Has anything exciting happened in your role?

We’ve recently been working with North East London Integrated Care Board to deliver play days and play packs, and support them and their clinical colleagues to provide a play-based, relaxed, calm environment for children and young people to go and get vaccinated in, to make the vaccine space less scary. We've seen such positive feedback and such positive impacts of that work, which has been so exciting. It really feels like we're reaching a specific need for them. A lot of our other box services are designed to meet needs within separate areas of therapeutic play, but this feels like we’re able to support them with a specific issue. It’s really satisfying to get into that work and to make a direct impact.

What was your favourite way to play as a child?

I grew up in the countryside, so I loved being outside, probably annoying lots of farmers! It didn't matter what the weather was, didn't matter if it was raining. Even now, as an adult, I recognise the impact on my mood if it’s absolutely throwing it down and I can't go out, and I always make an effort to go for a walk at lunchtime when I’m working.

I remember too, my best friend had a pond in her garden. We would, over the summer, build this den over the pond and look at all the frog spawn and all the things that were growing there and just do little experiments. I have very fond memories of that.

Is there something you wish more people knew about your job?

There's so much work, thought and time taken to deliver really good services, and then linking in with the insights team to understand how we can improve and meet play professionals’ needs better. And then OK, the research indicates that we have to deliver X or change a service in X way. So, how do we procure that, how do we make sure we meet our budget, how do we get stock into the warehouse, package and brand it right and get it out to settings? There's so much thought around all of that.

But then, when thinking on a wider level… play is really serious! The impact of play on children and young people is immense, and equally, the absence of play is felt just as much. My own perspective on the impact of play has changed immensely since I've been in this job. 

What is something you could do more of in your role?

Being out with play professionals who are using our services and gaining a better understanding of what their needs are. We already do have links to understand that - we have the Health Play Champions network, and we have our insights team, who are so focused on understanding what that need is and the impact of what we deliver. But I think from a relationship level, I’d like to spend more time face-to-face with people who deliver therapeutic play using our services and talking to them to understand how we can better support them.