Sunderland based housing association, Gentoo Group is supporting Northumbria Police and Victim’s First’s initiative by donating hundreds of handmade ‘Trauma Teddies’.
The scheme, which sees knitted teddy bears stored in police vehicles and handed out to young children when officers respond to incidents, is now being rolled out in Sunderland, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland following a successful pilot scheme in Newcastle in September.
Many of the children who receive a bear, may never have been in contact with the police before and are often scared and frightened. Whether they have been involved in a road traffic collision, or been missing, a bear can help officers to build trust with a child and calm them.
Utilising their connections throughout the City, Gentoo called out to staff, customers, local community groups and volunteers to pick up their knitting needles and help create some knitted teddies for the cause.
More than 350 trauma teddies have now been donated to Northumbria Police, with more still being made.
Lucy Malarkey, Deputy Director (Operations), Gentoo said: “At Gentoo we believe in building strong communities.
“We work closely with Northumbria Police on a number of key agendas, particularly around neighbourhood safety and participating in the Trauma Teddies scheme has provided a great opportunity for staff, customers and volunteers to make a positive difference to their local community.”
She added: “I hope the trauma bears we have donated bring some comfort to the children who receive them.”
Michelle Miller, Acting Inspector, Northumbria Police said: “We’re really grateful for these teddies and want to thank everyone who got involved, it’s fantastic to see everyone get behind the appeal and we are overwhelmed by the support from our local knitters.
“The response we get from young children when we give them out is very positive. It can be incredibly daunting for young children when they see us, especially if they have witnessed a traumatic incident and the teddies just help us offer that extra little bit of comfort and reassurance to them.”
Becky Childs, Children & Young People Coordinator & Restorative Justice Practitioner, Victims First Northumbria, said: “Victims First Northumbria are delighted to receive such generous donations from local knitters. The Trauma Teddy appeal aims to unite communities in offering and promoting support to young victims of crime and we have been overwhelmed by the positive response from the public in enabling us to do this.
“We’re proud to work in partnership with Northumbria Police to ensure that this offer of support is well promoted to young people and their families. Following receipt of a teddy, Victims First are able to provide a follow-up support call, to review and assist with any additional needs following the incident in question. It can often be a comfort to know there are services available to listen and provide support in times of need. With this in mind, Victims First are very grateful to the assistance from the public and Northumbria Police, allowing us to work together as a community, in order to best support our youngest community members.”
Gentoo, Northumbria Police and Victims First are now encouraging the public to get involved and donate a knitted bear to their local police station.