Since 1970, the organisation’s team of staff, supporters and volunteers have been playing a major role in initiating and furthering changes in how children are cared for in Irish hospitals.

The Children in Hospital Ireland adventure started in 1969, when the Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Pre-scolaire (the world organisation for pre-school education) carried out a unique survey in 17 Dublin Hospitals and published a report on visiting hours, accommodation for parents, and educational and play facilities. The report brought to light a number of important issues relating to these matters.

In response to this report, a group of parents of sick children gathered and started lobbying for the rights of all children in hospital to be upheld; specifically, the right to have your parent stay with you at all times, the right to play and the right to education.

Together, they formed the first Irish organisation for the welfare of children in hospital (Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital Ireland). Within a short period of time, the new charity set up a national program of arts and crafts and play for children in hospital. They also raised the awareness that child patients have specific emotional needs. At the time, very few hospitals recognised the importance of play for children or had appropriate facilities, furniture or specific training for health professionals.

Interest in the organisation was growing fast and many people, including Mr Erskine Childers, then Minister for Health, supported its work.

In 1973, the organisation introduced for the first time in Ireland a charter for the care of all sick children. In 1988, in collaboration with its European colleagues, it adopted the European Charter for Children in Hospital – the EACH charter.

Our voluntary organisation is now called Children in Hospital Ireland (CIH Ireland) and has extended its services to become one of Ireland’s leading children’s charities. We have approximately 500 volunteers actively engaged in 14 pediatric units across Ireland and we have a strong education and policy role in the area of children’s health.

The organisation has published a series of information leaflets, booklets and comprehensive reports to help support and inform parents, health professionals and policy makers about the rights and needs of sick children.

Children in Hospital Ireland has also contributed to the creation and operation of hospital playrooms and play areas in many Irish hospitals.

Today the organisation is still actively lobbying for the welfare of all sick children and their families. There is still a lot to do, so join us to make hospital a happier place for children.