Several times over the past year or so I have tried to contact the local Children's Hospices to see if they would like me to come and tell stories - for free, of course.
Last month one of them contacted me - and yesterday I made my first visit.
It was one of the most difficult storytelling sessions I have ever experienced.
This week is a special one for the hospice - they only have 4 unaccompanied teenage patients, who have multiple sensory problems and are there for a week of sensory experiences. Having seen my videos, the staff thought my style of telling would be just right for them. That was all I knew. I had never visited a children's hospice before.
One of the 4 had a fit in the night and was still asleep - so there were only 3 children plus various staff members.
All 3 were in wheelchairs and obviously had very limited movement. Their hands were curled and unmoving. They had no speech and were either completely or partially unsighted. I am not sure what they could hear.
For over an hour and a half I told various stories - the staff loved them - but there was no response at all from the children even when I let the soft toys touch their hands and faces.
As you can imagine, I felt pretty useless - but the staff then assured me that the children's stillness was, in itself, a sign of their approval. If they had been bored or upset they would have made their feelings felt.
So, apparently, it was a success.
Normally, of course, the hospice has a wide range of children and families in residence and storytelling would be much easier.
Now I am about to apply for a grant so that I can become the resident storyteller for our 3 local children's hospices for a year. Wish me luck!