The Croft

The Croft


The Croft is a place that helps children who have difficulties at home or at school, or sometimes both. Children come to The Croft with all sorts of problems that might be similar or different from the problems you might have in your own life. Some examples of problems include:

  • Problems with behaviour
  • Problems with getting on well with your family and other children
  • Problems with eating or sleeping
  • Problems with learning
  • And feeling very sad or worried.


Staying at the Croft

When you come to stay at The Croft it's usually for about eight weeks, although sometimes your stay can be a little longer. You'll stay with your mum or dad, or maybe a carer or grandparent, and sometimes brothers and sisters stay, too. Some children go home to sleep, usually because they live nearby and don't need to stay overnight at the Croft to help their problems get better.

What do children do at The Croft?

Image of child play

At The Croft we have a day programme between 9am and 3.30pm. During this time you will be looked after by the staff at The Croft and you'll do all sorts of different activities. These include going to The Croft school in the morning and taking part in groups in the afternoon. There are also playtimes that happen indoors and outdoors. If you are staying overnight one of your parents or a carer will look after you after the day programme has finished.

There are three playtimes each day apart from Thursday: one during school, one after lunch and one after the afternoon group. After we have put on our coats, we go into the big playground. We can do what we want and sometimes if you are lucky the staff will play with you! There are swings, climbing frame and a slide to play on. We also have a big sandpit and musical poles to run round. There's also space to play football or tag with other children. If the weather is too wet or cold, we will do a fun indoor activity instead. 


You will have a small care team whilst at the Croft which will be made up of both nurses and health care assistants; this is called your 'key worker team'. Although everyone will be involved in your care, these will be the core people who will help plan things with you and attend any meetings with you. As you will be coming into contact with lots of people it can be helpful to have this core group of people supporting you. You will have time each week with one of your key workers that's just for you: it's a time to talk or play. It helps the staff to think about how best they can help you.


Children's day programme

You will take part in lots of different activities during the week at The Croft, either in groups or on your own. As well as school and what we call 'life and social skills', there's art, music, health and welfare and recreation sessions - and plenty of time for play!

The weekly children's timetable (during term-time) can be found at the bottom of this page. During school holidays there is a different timetable full of fun activities for you and your family. This may include art and crafts, sport, music, trips off the unit and even visits from a few reptiles! 

In your first week at The Croft, instead of joining the Thursday afternoon rec group outing you go on a half-hour 'safety walk' with some of the staff to make sure that you're safe and know where things are. 

Afternoon/Group activities

bugAfternoon/Group Activities

On Monday to Thursday afternoons you join one of The Croft groups. Here's what you do in each of them:

Art Group

Every Monday afternoon in the Art Group we make things and do some painting. Art group is good fun as you get the chance to make something nice.

ArtTuesday Group

In this group we talk about how to stay safe and healthy. We also do fun things like yoga, playing games, tasting different foods and doing experiments.

Wednesday Group

In this group we talk about our feelings and friendships, as well as problems like bullying, anxiety and anger, and how Croft staff can help you deal with problems such as these.

Playing children

Recreation Group

Every Thursday afternoon we go out to have some fun. In your first week you will not attend rec group (this is when you will do a half an hour safety walk with staff), but from your second week you can join the rec group for activities such as swimming, ten-pin bowling, visits to the park, visiting garden centres and going to an animal sanctuary, Sometimes we go to the supermarket to get some tasty ingredients to cook and then eat. Parents, carers and staff join in the fun too! In your final week at The Croft, children get to choose the activities for the rest of the group.

From 3.30 pm onwards

At 3.30pm your spare time begins. This is when you can spend time with your family. We ask all children to make a plan for the evening - staff can help you and your family to do this in the first couple of days.

You can choose from a very wide range of activities. As well as watching TV and DVDs you can play on the PS4, listen to music, play pool, read books, do jigsaws and play all sorts of games for all ages. There’s Lego, Scalectrix, a doll’s house, dressing up clothes and much more. Activities are supervised where appropriate

Before dinner you can use the art room, soft room, music room, playroom, lounge or your own room to do activities or relax. If the weather is nice you can go outside in the playground or go for a walk with an adult. All children have to be in their bedroom by 8.30 pm and at 9pm the night nurses come on duty to look after everyone until the morning. 

The Croft School

bugThe Croft School

The Croft School is a fun place for all children, with lots of interesting things to do and learn. The school caters for the educational needs of the students currently living as inpatients at the Croft.

We work under the umbrella organisation called the Pilgrim Pathways School which includes the schools at the Darwin Centre, the Phoenix Centre and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

For more information about the Pilgrim Pathways School, please visit their website at this address

Here are a few of the comments made by children about the Croft School

“This school is better than other schools, but it is still school.”

“You have really helped me get back on my feet with school. The lessons I have at the Croft have helped me understand my work more.”

“Thank you so much for all the help and support it has really made a difference! Especially organizing my school trips and the changing them if I was uncomfortable! You make school much more fun.”



We have some rules at the Croft to keep everyone safe and to help them make the most out of their stay.


  1. Listen to each other
  2. Be kind (speak nicely)
  3. Share with each other
  4. Be gentle (don't hurt people)
  5. Take turns
  6. Keep your hands and feet to yourself
  7. Be in the right place at the right time
  8. Have fun!


  1. Swear
  2. Call names
  3. Use rude words or gestures (eg, hand signs)
  4. Tease
  5. Run away from the unit
  6. Damage things

When children fail to follow these rules we take various actions. You will first be given a warning to stop what you are doing. If you have still not stopped after a count of three, the staff may take time off your play time or you may not get treats such as stickers. At times staff may ask you to leave the room. If you are unwilling or unable to do this, staff may have to take you to somewhere safe where you cannot hurt yourself or others.

Anger rules
We would like you to think about the following anger rules. It's ok to feel angry but:

  1. Don’t hurt others
  2. Don’t hurt yourself
  3. Don’t hurt property
  4. Do talk about it

When children follow the rules they may be rewarded with treats such as stickers, free choices and special time. Following the rules helps make everyone at The Croft feel safe and happy.

Advocacy at the Croft

bug 2Your Advocate at The Croft

An advocate is someone you can talk to who will speak up for you and help you to speak for yourself.

Our advocate visits The Croft on a regular basis, usually on Wednesdays. Their job is to listen to children and their parents if they have a problem or worries about being at The Croft. They will also help in any way they can when you go back home or back to school.

The advocate's job is to support you to help you express your feelings and views and to make sure that adults listen to what you have to say. When you leave The Croft, a discharge meeting is held where your parents or carers, teachers and other staff from The Croft meet to decide on plans for your future. You can come to the meeting if you wish, but most children prefer not to attend. Instead, you can talk to your advocate before the meeting to make sure that your views are heard by the adults.

During term time, a monthly ‘Have Your Say’ group is organised by the advocate with you and the other children, to hear your views on the unit and whether there is anything you would like to change or anything you need. Following this group, a ‘you said/we did’ sheet is displayed on a notice board in the big lounge for the children to see what has been done about their comments.

When you leave the Croft you will also have the opportunity to fill in a Leavers sheet with the advocate, if you want.  This is a chance to let other children know about your experience at the Croft.

 The Advocacy Service we use is called the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) and contact details are as follows:

Freephone: 0808 808 1001

What children have said about the croft

caterpillarWhat children have said about the Croft

Read some of the things children and parents have to say about being at The Croft. If you would like to leave some feedback about your experience of the Croft, please call the team: 01223 534500, or click here



Who does what?


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Who Does What?

The Croft has a team of doctors, nurses, health care assistants, psychologists, family therapists, music therapists, drama therapist, teaching staff and a social worker. We also have three administrators  and a housekeeper.

Ward manager
The Ward manager is responsible for the overall management of the Croft, in consultation with senior colleagues.  

Nursing team
The nursing team consists of Nurses and Health Care Assistants, who together form the largest staff group at the Croft. They provide much of the day to day care for you, and it is this team who you have most contact with.

Our housekeeper oversees maintenance issues on the ward, as well as ordering and organising the provision of meals and laundry. 

We have a consultant psychiatrist who has overall responsibility for your care and will make decisions about your care and treatment with you, your family and other professionals. We also have a paediatrician who works alongside the consultant and team members. They are responsible for looking after your physical health, as well as monitoring your mental well-being. 

Clinical psychologist
The role of the clinical psychologist is to apply psychological theory to the assessment and management of children and families referred to The Croft.

Family therapist
Family therapy is an approach that tries to understand how your difficulties connect with the people in your life. These can include your parents, carers, siblings, wider family, friends and professionals (for example from your school). We try together to understand the ways in which these relationships are connected, and we need your help as well. Family therapy at the Croft usually happens once a week, and we will start meeting with your parents or carers, and then include you, your siblings, wider family members, or any other people that are important to your family.

Hello, I am the Dramatherapist here at the Croft. I see parents and children to help think about what might make things feel better for you. For some people dramatherapy sounds worrying, because they do not like the drama part, but it is not as scary as it might sound! Basically, it is a time where we do different activities and can play together. I will sometimes see you on your own and sometimes I might see you with one or both of your parents. Dramatherapy can help with anything you might be worried about, but it can also help if you have no idea why you are feeling and behaving the way that you are.  

Music therapist
The music room offers a wide variety of musical instruments for children at the Croft to play, explore and express themselves with. The music therapist runs individual/family and group sessions at The Croft. Music therapy enables you to have fun and express yourself with others or with the music therapist. Sessions also give opportunities to explore difficult feelings and experiences that might not be easy to put into words. The music group is a group for you and the other children to play and have fun together, share feelings, and explore relating with one another.

Art therapist
The art therapist at The Croft can have a session with you on your own or with your parent/carer. Or you might join a group where we use art-making to think about ourselves - our achievements, feelings or worries. In art therapy you don’t have to be good at art  – everyone can play and experiment with art materials. Your work is valuable as a way of expressing your ideas, and who you are.  You can decide what materials you like to use, and what you want to make with them. The art therapist will support you and may ask you about what you’re making. Art therapy is great for children who don’t like using words to say things about themselves. 

The teaching staff are committed to reengaging you with your education and keeping you up to date with your mainstream school work as far as possible. 

Social Worker
Our social worker works with our young people in thinking about transitions and what additional support might help at home for both the young person and parent/carer.

Head of Patient and Parent Involvement (HOPPI)
The HOPPI seeks constant feedback on parent/carer and patient experience, to give you a voice and to help the service develop. 

Administrative team
The admin team play an important role in helping the effective and smooth running of the service. 

The advocate will listen to the views being expressed by all young people to make sure that important issues are raised with the staff team at the Croft.

Children's artwork

beatle Children's artwork

Here are some of the things that children have made in art group

child art 1


child art 2


child art 3

child art 4

child art 5

child art 6

child art 7

new art1

new art 2


new art 3

The Croft memory tree

large buggThe Croft Memory Tree

memory tree 1

memory tree 2

As a patient

As a patient, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Patient Advice and Liaison service  Contact the Trust