Currently funding

Working in partnership with local hospitals, respite centres and specialist services, we’re funding projects which focus on improving children’s physical and emotional well-being, while providing additional support services for parents and carers.

Here you can find out a little bit more about some of the projects in Sussex that we’re currently funding…

Medical Equipment

Co2 Monitor

We are funding this  child friendly Co2 Monitor which will allow the medical staff at the Alex to continuously monitor their young patient’s carbon dioxide levels. By monitoring these levels, staff can ensure timely medical interventions and avoid the disruption and trauma of lots of blood tests.

It will also help them to stabilise the ventilation support to patients and quickly alert medical and nursing staff to any change in the child’s condition, all of which means that they can better monitor the length of a hospital stay.

The monitor will also be able to provide sleep studies closer to home avoiding the disruption of a trip to London for the same study.


Mock MRI scanner

Having an MRI scan as an adult can be a noisy, frightening experience so imagine how it feels for a small child? Not only is it really difficult for them to keep still for the 30 minutes that the scan takes, but the whole process can be an incredibly daunting one.

Giving young children an opportunity to see and understand how these machines work and what it feels like before they have their own scan could really help reduce their anxiety and make it easier to perform the scans.

So, we are funding a small mock MRI scanner so that children aged between three and six can see how they work and understand the process. As Orthopaedic Consultant Thomas Crompton from the Alex explains: “If children have seen a miniature scanner, perhaps even scanning their teddy bear, they will then be able to have scans without the need to have a general anaesthetic.”

This will then hopefully make the whole process much more relaxed for both the patient and their parents.

Anaesthetic pump

We are funding a specialist piece of equipment that allows doctors to provide intravenous anaesthetics to children in a safe and effective way.

This equipment enables two different anaesthetics to be administered at the same time, which is the safest method, using separate pumps within the same machine. This new pump improves children’s experience by reducing nausea and recovery time, and is potentially a safer, more stable method of giving an anaesthetic.

With this new pump, the Alex will be able to give the medication in two of their theatres in the children’s hospital, benefiting around 4,000 children each year.


Rectal nerve stimulator

This piece of equipment is used in paediatric surgery for children with suspected Hirschsprung’s disease, a rare bowel disorder causing severe constipation, or birth defects where the rectum or anus doesn’t develop properly.

This stimulator helps to inform surgical decisions for babies on the Trevor Mann Baby Unit and without it, babies would need to be transferred to London or Southampton for treatment, which can only add to the stress for both baby and parents.

Having this equipment available at the Alex means that the medical team are able to continue to continue to provide local families access to this specialist surgery.


Simulation Manikin Hardware

Practising skills and responses to simulated medical situations can help to improve the reliability of care, patient safety and great team working in a medical setting. These simulated experiences are also incredibly useful in teaching, helping with decision making and improving communication during stressful medical situations.

All of these elements are invaluable in making real-life clinical situations as safe and successful as possible.

Which is why we are funding the updated hardware for life-like manikins that controls their physical and physiological responses, creating as life-like an experience as possible. The ability to control and change things like heart rate and rhythm, breath sounds, and seizure activity increases the realism and helps prepare staff for emergency situations in the children’s A&E.

The Alex runs a weekly teaching programme for staff across nursing and medical staff with more than 550 healthcare staff taking part each year. Having this simulated experience using updated software enables staff to feel more confident looking after very unwell patients, providing an even safer patient experience.

Asthma Controller Sensor

Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition affecting children in the UK. The best way to manage this condition is to make sure patients regularly take their preventative inhaler. However, a common, and preventable problem, is children forgetting to regularly take this medication.

As a way of combatting this problem, we are funding a great piece of equipment that aims to help families and their medical teams have clear information on how their medication is being used. The Hailie sensor attaches to asthma inhalers, specifically the preventative version, via a Bluetooth link to a smartphone app and enables children and parents monitor their mediation.

It also provides reminders for patients to take their puffer at the correct times and links to a clinical portal for doctors to see how their patients are getting on.

The use of these devices has shown to increase the adherence to medication by 59%, reduce hospital admissions for asthmatic children by 80% and reduce the use of their reliever medication by 45%.

This all works towards children’s general quality of life as well as reducing health care intervention and hospital admissions.


Covid-19 related research project

Rockinghorse have pledged to help fund a unique research project which aims to evaluate the prevalence of the COVID-19 infection in young people.

Little is known about how the virus is transmitted in educational environments which impacts on the decisions about when the appropriate time is to fully re-open schools and colleges. A large part of this uncertainty stems from the lack of data around the way healthy teenagers unwittingly pass on the virus to other people in their community.

This research project is a collaboration between Dr Katy Fidler, Consultant Paediatrician in Infectious Diseases at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Dr Matthew Snape, Associate Professor of Paediatrics and Vaccinology in Oxford and Professor Adam Finn, Professor of Infectious Diseases in Bristol, with each site contributing to this work.

The team collected 1406 throat swabs from a range of 16-19-year olds as part of a meningitis study in February and March 2020, just before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the UK. These can now be used to test for the virus containing COVID-19 to determine the percentage of these students who were well and showing no symptoms but were carrying the virus.

The team will then be able to use these figures to compare the carriage rates to the disease rates in the wider community in Brighton compared to other cities. This research could have a great impact on the decisions made in the coming months around the re-opening of schools and colleges and help understand how best to protect the most vulnerable.

It will also provide crucially important knowledge about how the virus spreads which will be important to help plan for a second wave of COVID-19 or for future pandemics with similar viruses.

Other Equipment

Visualite Ceiling Lights

We are funding a beautiful Visualite ceiling light for the patient area within the children’s emergency department.

These lights create a relaxing, ambient atmosphere which will help reduce any anxiety felt by the children and their parents while they are waiting for treatment. The images within the light can also help with distracting children while they are undergoing treatments and procedures in the hospital.

Powered by edge light technology and supplied with a stunning range of visuals, the Visualite system creates amazing lighting effects which can really open up the space.



Specialist Toys & Resources

The Specialist Nursery Team at Seaside View Child Development Centre in Brighton provide play sessions for children with additional developmental needs.

These invaluable sessions, usually offered in 6-8-week blocks, are used to assess, diagnose, and support these children and offer support and advice to their parents and carers. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic the team has been unable to provide these much-needed sessions, meaning the families who need this support the most have been unable to access it.

But the team at Seaside View have developed ways to provide these sessions virtually, meaning that children are still able to access the support they need along with their parents and carers being able to help their development with the support and experience of the team.

In order to provide these sessions, Rockinghorse is funding the purchase of 18 toy boxes containing the same toys and equipment usually used by the sessions but now delivered to the families to use at home.

The play sessions can then take place online, with the team able to assess and monitor patient’s development, directly enabling them to help them progress using the right mix of equipment and support.

These sessions will promote the physical developments, communication skills and emotional well-being of the children along with empowering their parents and carers to continue with their child’s daily programme and be involved in their progress.


Mobile Sensory Trolley

The Play Team at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital has asked for our support to update the sensory trolleys that they use throughout the hospital.

The new Baby Voyager trolley is really lightweight and easy to manoeuvre around the hospital beds and provides children with a wonderful sensory experience. The Voyager includes, among other things, fibre optics, a projector and Bluetooth radio, all aimed at creating a fully immersive sensory experience for children.

Sensory equipment like this is invaluable for children with additional needs and long-term patients at the Alex. They also create a calm environment and distraction for children in the A&E and x-ray department, making treatment a much less stressful experience.



Christmas Activities at the Alex

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of the usual activities at the Royal Alex have been curtailed, not to mention only one parent being able to visit their child whilst in the hospital.

At the moment these restrictions are set to continue for at least the next few months, and this includes the cancellation of the Alex’s annual Christmas party, usually held at the Hilton in Brighton.

So, to make sure that children who will be in hospital over the festive period won’t miss Christmas, Rockinghorse is funding the Play Team at the Alex to purchase a range of things to help make it special.

This includes decorations, activities, presents and a grotto to help the hospital feel more Christmassy and make sure everyone feels they aren’t missing out even if they aren’t able to be at home.



Additional support to Chalkhill during the Covid-19 crisis

For the past few years, Rockinghorse has supported Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit through the funding of an activities programme for children and young people with severe and complex mental health issues.

The programme compliments medical care and has made a huge difference to the young patients at the hospital.

Sadly, in these uncertain times, frontline staff at Chalkhill have had to scale back the programme as many of the activities involve inviting people into the hospital to deliver sessions, something that simply isn’t possible at the moment or for the next few weeks.

This is having a devastating effect on the health and overall wellbeing of the vulnerable young people admitted to the hospital. Staff at Chalkhill are working long hours, looking after patients who can struggle to understand the effects of the virus and for whom times of such huge anxiety and upset make their mental health so much worse.

Rockinghorse are pledging support to the nursing staff and patients at Chalkhill by helping them to purchase equipment such as iPads and tablets, personal DVD players, digital radios, art materials, sports equipment, books and DVDs, which the young people can use while in this time of isolation. Having ways to fill their leisure time is vital for these young people already struggling with their mental health.


Teenage Support Group at the Alex

We’re pledging our ongoing support for the Teenage Support Group at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, during 2020. The group was set up to benefit teenagers living with ongoing chronic medical conditions who are outpatients at the hospital.

The weekly group uses art therapy to provide a safe, confidential space where young people can explore their thoughts and feelings about living with a chronic medical condition. The group supports teenagers living with conditions such as; epilepsy, arthritis, diabetes, ehlers-danlos syndromes, chronic pain, and gastro-intestinal problems.

Weekly sessions support the young people with anxiety, depression, and trauma that often accompanies chronic medical conditions. Each group caters for between 6-8 members and one-to-one sessions are also provided. Art Psychotherapist, Saskia Neary, works alongside the Paediatric Psychological Support Service to address the issues presented by members of the group.

Support for parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis

In 2017, we funded mindfulness courses for parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis. In partnership with the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, we funded the parent forum for two years, which has received notable positive feedback.

Facilitated by the Paediatric Psychosocial Support Service (PPSS), mindfulness skills are taught to parents of young patients with Cystic Fibrosis. The course aims to help parents manage and cope with stressful and difficult situations by supporting their well-being and mental health.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic, chronic and life-limiting condition that requires ongoing daily management. This includes regular medication, intensive physiotherapy and specific dietary requirements, as well as routine clinic visits and regular hospitalisations.

Following the success of the introductory courses, we have agreed to fund a continuation course which will run for another two-year period. Dr Sally Clarke is the Clinical Psychologist for Cystic Fibrosis and explains the huge benefits of the mindfulness programme.

She says, “Parents who attending the ‘Rockinghorse Nurturing Parents’ sessions have reported a wide range of psychological benefits. These include improvements in anxiety and depression amongst many others.”

We have also received lots of positive feedback from parents, including: “I enjoyed practicing mindful communication in the sessions. It helped me think about my triggers of stress and try to see them differently.” “The sessions have improved my skills as a listener and helped me notice physical and emotional changes in myself and others. It has given me the confidence to be kind to myself.”

Yoga project at the Alex

As the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, we raise money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment as well as providing funding for therapies and services. As part of our ongoing commitment to the Alex, we’re funding a Yoga Project to offer weekly sessions to young people with chronic medical conditions.

The regular yoga sessions will actively engage young people aged 12-18-years-old in developing their resources and skills in self-care, managing anxiety and stress in relation to their medical condition. The sessions have been developed in consultation with young patients and a range of professionals so that it can meet the specific needs of participants.

Initial feedback shows that the yoga sessions are an effective way to increase physical activity, gain strength, flexibility and balance. The sessions have also proven to help with stress and anxiety, leaving young patients to feel supported and more resilient. Due to the complexity of the medical conditions of some of the young patients, a trauma sensitive yoga approach has been developed.

Project update

Since the beginning of June, yoga practitioner Saskia has moved the yoga sessions online – delivering both group and one to one weekly sessions. Despite some challenges involved with delivering trauma sensitive yoga virtually, they have been working well. The one to one sessions have proved successful for the participants and proved to be really helpful for connecting with parents too.

Feedback from one parent about the sessions included; “We are so very grateful to Saskia, she has done so much for E. Being extremely hypermobile and having eczema and not being the best sleeper have led to real challenges in her behaviour at times but having that sacred time and space once a week has been invaluable to her. At a time when most kids were pretty lost, to be remembered by brilliant Saskia with the kind support from Rockinghorse it gave her a sense of being cared about, a reminder of how important it was to do yoga a long with an emotional release.”

The Mind Clinic

We’re the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) and a vital supporter of the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) in Brighton, funding equipment and services over and above what the NHS is able to fund.

Since February 2017, we’ve been funding a service called the ‘Mind Clinic’, a dedicated service to benefit staff at the Alex. The Mind Clinic provides counselling services and pastoral care that staff can access in work time or when they are off duty.

The purpose of the clinic is to provide a non-performance related counselling service that is freely available to approximately 149 doctors, nurses and non-clinical staff who work at the frontline of the NHS.

Project update…

We’re continuing to fund The Mind Clinic, pledging to support the service throughout 2020 into 2021. Thanks to our funding, free confidential counselling sessions are available to staff at the Alex during works hours and on days off.

Some of the feedback that’s been received during the 2019 Mind Clinic’s, include; “I think the Mind Clinic has been really valuable to us nurses, especially when we deal with physically and mentally demanding challenges on a daily basis. We often forget about our own wellbeing in the process, so the Mind Clinic gives us the opportunity to take time to do this.”

Simon Parke from the Mind Clinic, says, “The funding from Rockinghorse has enabled us to offer 72 one-to-one sessions with staff at the Alex. We provide a safe and insightful place in which hospital staff can work through issues that are arising and we’ve had such positive feedback.”