A charity started in South Derbyshire has now helped 12,000 children who have fled domestic violence.
The Buddy Bag Foundation, founded by Karen Williams, has now created 12,000 unique bags to offer some comfort to children who find themselves in refuges.
In the UK alone, 48,000 children are forced to flee their home with just the clothes they are wearing and head to a women’s refugee.
This is where the Buddy Bag Foundation comes in as they send the bags filled with 12 essential items to refuges across the UK.
These bags can include teddies, crayons, books and a picture frame for a precious photo. Pyjamas and toiletries are other key items, selected to match the age of the child.
Mrs Williams said: “Can you imagine being one of those youngsters? You leave all you know behind you, clutching your mum’s hand as you arrive in a women’s refuge. This must be one of the scariest moments any child could face. Yet children remain the forgotten victims of domestic abuse.
“Often these children escape with just the clothes they are wearing as they go along with an opportunity to get out, or they are taken from school.
“That’s where the Buddy Bag Foundation comes in. As families step nervously into their temporary accommodation, which is an emergency place to stay, we offer a glimmer of light – a bag of love – to show we are thinking of them. We are the only UK charity to do this and we will not stop.
“We’ve now packed a brilliant 12,000 bags with love. We know we’re only just scratching the surface and we are committed to doing much, much more. By 2020, we aim to have delivered 20,200 Buddy Bags – can you help us smash this target?”
Volunteers are needed to help pack the bags and make donations to fill them ready to bring a smile to the faces of children in a desperate time.
Mrs Williams said: “So when we say we have packed and sent this many bags – who do we mean does it? We mean people like you. We hold regular Buddy Bag Brigade bag packs where people of all ages and all walks of life join in – it’s a lovely, lively gathering and you are very welcome indeed.
“Restoring a sense of safety and security into a child’s life during a traumatic time is one of the first steps to recovery. Buddy Bags are something a child can call their own, no matter where they go. Tailored across a wide age range from newborn babies to teenagers, they contain everything a child needs straight away, so that also means toiletries, pyjamas, socks and underwear.
“Feedback from families means so much. They tell us why they loved their bags and sometimes, how women feel stronger and more sure of their decision to leave, thanks to seeing their sons and daughters happy when they open their unexpected packs of goodies.
“As well as help from devoted family and friends, we have now gained support from a diverse sector of groups ranging from the Guides who even created their own Buddy Bag Badge, the Utility Warehouse Discount Club, Amazon, Vodafone, and lots of local businesses who have offered their skills free of charge.”
Buddy Bags are paid for through fund-raising, sponsorship and donations. Groups of items can either be donated or sponsored. Individual volunteers or companies looking for community projects to support can meet at venues throughout the Midlands every fortnight to help fill the back packs.