Belfast Telegraph

PSNI teddy initiative will help comfort children in distress

By Mark Bain

Nifty knitters from all over Northern Ireland have been busy creating comforting soft toys for the PSNI to hand out to young or vulnerable bystanders in frightening situations.

The 'Trauma Teddies' are designed to distract little ones or vulnerable adults from crimes or troubling incidents they have witnessed, and will now be riding along with officers in the Mid-Ulster and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon areas.

They'll be springing into action when required to help comfort anyone involved in incidents, from road crashes and domestic violence to getting lost.

Police have received so many of the hand-made teddies that they have decided to donate some to charity. The spare bears will now find a new home when Coalisland woman Yvonne Donnelly takes them with her on an upcoming aid trip to Zambia.

Sergeant JP McCartan of PSNI Cookstown said: "We have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who has given their time to knitting Trauma Teddies.

"You can be assured that your efforts will be put to good use providing comfort to children who need it. Teddies will be kept at police stations and in vehicles and officers will now have the option of giving a child one in the hope that it can provide a little comfort in what would be a difficult or upsetting situation.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported this initiative for your generosity. We are grateful to each and every one of you who has taken the time to knit or crochet a Trauma Teddy."

Councillor Denise Mullen, of Mid Ulster Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), added: "People have been incredibly generous. The amount of teddies we have received has far exceeded our expectations. The teddies we have received have been fabulous and will help give comfort in upsetting situations."

Receiving the Trauma Teddies for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District, Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: "I'm delighted that our police officers will now have a Trauma Teddy as part of their vehicle patrol equipment as well as other existing vital kit like defibrillators.

"These teddies, kindly knitted by volunteers, will help us comfort children in distressing situations across our district."

The Trauma Teddies idea originated from British Red Cross volunteer Marion Gibson in 2000 who, while working in Australia, saw firefighters give cuddly toys to children fleeing bush fires. She started making gifts for children caught up in hurricanes, conflicts and other disasters.

The idea has now been adopted by emergency services around the world.

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