HAND-knitted teddies, made by local volunteers, are providing reassurance to traumatised children across Australia.
Red Cross trauma teddies are knitted by a few dozen volunteers in the Canberra region, and some ladies even attend trauma teddy finishing school where the finishing touches are made to the toys.
Thelma Johnson, from Red Cross ACT, says trauma teddies provide comfort and an immediate break from the distress of a disaster or emergency.
“Trauma teddies are great for anyone who experiences a distressing event in their lives. Many people find it comforting to hold a simple handmade teddy,” she says.
“Here in the ACT region, we have a few dozen very generous people who knit up the trauma teddies in their own homes, we even have a lady who is travelling around Australia as a grey nomad, who knits up the teddies as she travels and sends them in where ever she finds a post office.
“Two small groups of finishing school ladies meet fortnightly at Red Cross House for a morning tea a good chat and they do the final safety inspection and labelling of the teddies.”
Over the years, Red Cross emergency service volunteers have handed out tens of thousands of these little, hand-knitted toys.
“As well as registering the 200 people who were evacuated to Dickson College following the Mitchell chemical fire, local Red Cross Emergency Services team members also gave out lots of trauma teddies as part of our support to people in the evacuation centre,” Thelma says.
She says so many teddies were handed out during last summer’s floods, fires and cyclones in Queensland, Victoria and WA that many trauma teddies from the ACT were airlifted interstate, she says.
The teddies can also find themselves in the arms of older people, or anyone who needs a little extra comfort and some hugs during an emergency.
Volunteer Mary Argall helps out at the trauma teddy finishing school once a fortnight. She started only recently because her child started pre-school and she wanted volunteer work.
“I’ve been knitting since I was a child and I’m also a Queenslander so when I heard that the trauma teddies were used to help those affected by the floods, I was really happy to help out,” Mary says.
“It’s a great feeling to know that you can help bring some cheer to a child – we all get a buzz out of it.
“It’s a lovely bunch of ladies who get together and put the finishing touches on the teddies and we sit and chat.”
The Red Cross is always looking for more volunteers to knit Trauma Teddies or donate wool. Anyone interested in being a knitter can collect the pattern from the reception desk as well.
“It’s not a big commitment, knitters make the teddies in their own time and the patterns are very simple,” says Thelma.
Donations of 8-ply wool of any colour should be dropped off at the reception desk of Red Cross House in Garran, upstairs above the Blood Bank.