The Camerados teepee was placed in the atrium of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and immediately I felt a connection. I am a radical, so the sight of a huge teepee slap bang in the middle of a hospital entrance simply brought a huge smile to my face. Since childhood I have always loved to be outdoors under canvas and I regularly made dens and shelters with my children (now grown up) on walks and at home (indoors and out). There is something quite calming in nature about the way canvas subdues noise and makes one feel more settled. I believe that we hold primitive memories of our ancestors deep within us – we all come from a place before bricks and mortar a land of homes made of leaves, clay and nature. Once inside the teepee you’ll find intricately embroidered floor cushions spread out like a carpet of rest, old sofas that’ll relax your bones, colours to relax the mind’s eye and whispered hushed voices. In more ways than one, the teepee was my go to place in moments of stress but also to refuel and eat. I regularly took my lunch and dinner there and it felt like an escape from my busy job as a labour ward midwife.
“There is emerging evidence to show that NHS staff who take breaks away from their work environment are more rested, more able to cope with pressure and also kinder. The teepee encouraged me and many others not only to appreciate our meal break but also to reground ourselves and connect with others from many different walks of life.”
Families sat in the teepee alongside staff and they helped one another through smiles and conversation. I met a young family who were staying with their son on the children’s ward (they had brought him to the tent) – he loved it and just imagine its effect on his recovery! The tent helped me and many others after busy shifts- to unwind and ‘just be’ and the signs were uplifting. This ‘public living room’ teepee is about community.
This year the tent has returned and we are happy to have it back. The giant tent is a “teepee to please”, a connector and a place to unwind from pressures and stresses. New patients and staff ask one another ‘what’s that?” and peep inside , returning later with friends and food to sit and rejoice in the hushed calm of the canvas. In these days of clinical cleanliness, plastics in our oceans, risks versus benefits – what could be nicer than just sitting in a tent made of nature’s products and getting back to the place from whence we came? Thank you to the fabulous Camerados team for the teepee. I hope you enjoy my blog and that it encourages people to visit the teepee when it’s near them.
Jenny Clarke, aka @JennyTheM on Twitter