A GROUP of mums have come together to give practical help to kids whose lives have been turned upside down by domestic violence.
Forest group the Bag Packing Crew puts together bags with essentials and fun items for children who have to leave home quickly.
It is estimated that some 48,000 UK children per year require emergency accommodation after fleeing violent situations.
Bag Packing Crew founder Julie Holder said: “They often have to leave at night and without the chance to collect basic items.”
The Forest group was inspired by the Birmingham-based Buddy Bag Foundation and has already made available 40 bags to the Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service and a refuge in Stroud.
They are now putting together another 180 bags for children in the county, including essential items such as pyjamas and toiletries but also fun items like colouring books and teddy bears.
The bags are prepared by age group from 18 months to 16 years of age, said Julie.
She previously collected for a children’s cancer ward in Bristol, but when she acquired 40 children’s back packs, she had to look for an alternative use.
She said: “Kids in hospital are not going to want back packs so I contacted the Buddy Bag Foundation.”
Fellow Bag Packing Crew member Nicola Hunt added: “Everything has to be new – we want to make sure everything is current and up to date and nice and hopefully it will give a bit of happiness at a miserable time.
“Some of these children are going in the middle of the night. All they have is what they are wearing
“They have clean pyjamas and pants and a toothbrush but they also have a colouring book and a teddy they can cuddle.”
Funds are raised by events such as car boot sales, craft fairs and quizzes and the group is always on the look out for bargains.
“The best way for people to support us is to come along to one of the events – our next is a fair at the Coffee Shop in Bream on December 15,” said Julie.
“Even if people only give £1, that is a toothbrush. Every little is an enormous help.”
They are also looking for volunteers to help pack the bags.
Nicola said: “We know that all the 40 bags we’ve sent out already have been used and are making a difference for children.”
Search for the Bag Packing Crew on Facebook for more details.