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‘Bobby Buddies’ scheme creates thousands of teddies to help children

PUBLISHED: 16:42 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42 02 January 2019

Helping children in times of trauma. Lianne Gerrish from Great Cornard has been moved by the reaction to her 'Bobby Buddies' appeal for knitters. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Helping children in times of trauma. Lianne Gerrish from Great Cornard has been moved by the reaction to her 'Bobby Buddies' appeal for knitters. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

For many people a visit from the emergency services will be one of the most stressful experiences in their life but for children who get involved in such situations the fear can be a lot worse.

In such situations any form of comfort can make a difference to how they are able to deal with a situation: that’s where Bobby Buddies fit in.

Small knitted or crocheted characters, Bobby Buddies are given to children in emergency situations to help them deal with what is going on around them.

In Suffolk the project is being run Lianne Gerrish from Great Cornard.

“It’s a very good tool for the emergency services to have”, says Mrs Gerrish.

Hundreds of 'Bobby Buddies' have been knitted and donated to the appeal so far. Picture: Neil DidsburyHundreds of 'Bobby Buddies' have been knitted and donated to the appeal so far. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“It did run in Suffolk many years ago.

“My granddaughter was given one when she went into hospital.”

It was after talking to friends about the project which used to be known as Trauma Teddies that Mrs Gerrish, whose husband is a community liaison officer for Suffolk police, decided to look into starting it up again.

“We had to go through all the health and safety and insurance bits to get it going,” she said.

Lianne Gerrish from Great Cornard has been moved by the reaction to the 'Bobby Buddies' appeal for knitters. Picture: Neil DidsburyLianne Gerrish from Great Cornard has been moved by the reaction to the 'Bobby Buddies' appeal for knitters. Picture: Neil Didsbury

In August the project started to take off, currently the Bobby Buddies Facebook group has over 700 members who have knitted and crocheted thousands of buddies in the last few months with participants living in all corners of the county.

Buddies don’t have to be teddies with pigs, octopuses and snakes among the designs that have been used.

“We have got all sorts,” said Mrs Gerrish.

“I don’t want to restrict people to a particular pattern.”

The teddies help our emergency services connect with a child in a moment of crisis. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe teddies help our emergency services connect with a child in a moment of crisis. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Knitters do have some rules, however: buddies should not contain detachable items like eyes for health and safety reasons.

Buddies also have to be dealt with in a particular way and cannot be dropped off directly at police stations.

The toys have to be dropped off at designated collection points across the county.

From here they are then checked over to make sure they fit all the health and safety standards.

The teddies which get thoroughly checked for health and safety are then handed over to Suffolk Police. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe teddies which get thoroughly checked for health and safety are then handed over to Suffolk Police. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Once they have been looked over Mrs Gerrish then arranges for them to be dropped off with the police.

“I think they are invaluable as a tool and the police officers wanted them,” said Mrs Gerrish.

“I am a bit knitting mad. It seemed the perfect thing.

I can use my passion to help and there are obviously hundreds and hundreds of people out there that have the same passion.”

Mrs Gerrish’s knitters are as passionate about the project as she is with each having their own reasons for getting involved in the scheme.

Mary Wyllie from Snape who has been knitting for 75 years said: “I was knitting “trauma teddies” for Gateshead Police and wondered why Suffolk was not doing something similar, so I asked at Martlesham Station who gave me the Facebook page.”

Brenda Gumble used to be a cleaner at Sudbury Police Station and said she had gotten involved because of the previous scheme.

Karen Webber from Felixstowe said: “I find it such a privilege to be able to help young children in their time of need, it’s only a small gesture but it can mean so much.”

Some of Mrs Gerrish’s members are knitting as far as 200 miles away from Suffolk.

Elizabeth Kingsbury from Dorrington in Lincolnshire got involved in the scheme after her granddaughters benefited from a similar trauma teddies scheme.

Meanwhile one of the projects most long distance members is June Chandler from Sudbrook in South Wales who has been knitting for 40 years.

“I saw it on Facebook and I wanted to help as I can knit and crochet.”

The future for the Bobby Buddies scheme looks bright as Mrs Gerrish has been asked to expand her project into neighbouring counties.

“I have been asked to push it through to Cambridgeshire and we are starting to roll out into Norfolk this year,” said Mrs Gerrish.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “The ‘Bobby Buddy’ is a simple way to enable Suffolk police officers to engage and reassure and comfort children in distress.

“It is just a small gesture but is one that has the potential to help take their mind of upsetting and difficult situations.”

To find out more about the Bobby Buddy project visit its website or join their group on Facebook.

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