Working with Camerados to create spaces to connect throughout UK hospitals

Once in a while, you stumble across something so unique, you’ll move mountains to get involved. This is how we felt when a social movement called Camerados got in touch with us at the beginning of 2017, to help them with a new and innovative idea to help combat tough times and encourage human connection to flourish, with the help of our tipis!

Camerados started with a belief in a simple but powerful idea: that friendships (however loosely defined) and a sense of purpose could help us all beat tough times; that isolation and loneliness underlie the big hairy problems in society (poor mental and physical health, addiction, homelessness, community tension). Their aim is to bring about more human connection in the world and quickly learned that when we look out for others, it creates the sense of purpose we all need too.

This resonated with us here at Big Chief Tipis. As a team, we pride ourselves on working as a tight-knit unit and know that it’s all of our responsibility to help eachother out and deal with any issues that arise in a positive and problem-solving way. We move forward, as a team, over hurdles and ditches to overcome anything – so why not apply this to our personal lives too? All so often you think that a problem is for you and only you to deal with. However the team at Camerados believe that you can get by “with a little help from your friends”.

So how do tipis fit in all of this you may ask? One of Camerados’ biggest aims was to celebrate and enable human connection in hospitals. Hospitals can be stressful and emotive places. Places where people go when they’re having a tough time. They had the idea to create a “Living Room” concept inside the hospital, where patients, staff, friends, family and visitors could go and talk to one another, share their stresses and look out for each other. *cue Big Chief Tipis….

We built one of our Baby Tipis inside the glass atrium at Blackpool Victoria Hospital to act as a test-bed for the concept. For 21 days, people in crisis were supported by strangers, staff struggling to cope with the pressures of their workloads asked for support from patients; and the general wellbeing of a very stressed-out building improved. Staff, patients and visitors – several thousand people in total – began to make connections and look out for each other more than ever – with a hugely positive effect on both patient experience and staff wellbeing.

After receiving hundreds of positive feedback stories, both Camerados and the team at Blackpool Victoria Hospital saw the overwhelming effect a space like this can have on social connection. So, we are thrilled that the tipi will be returning to the hospital in June this year! Not only that, but the hope is to role this concept out to hospitals around the country too.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a tipi in a hospital and want to see what it can achieve, follow Camerados on social media for all of the latest updates as the teepee goes live. Or better still, drop into Blackpool Victoria Hospital to see it for yourself!

Join the Movement #Camerados