A charity which helps children who find themselves in emergency care by giving them essential items is half way to hitting its target for handing out its 'buddy bags'.
The Buddy Bag Foundation was set up in South Derbyshire by Karen Williams in January 2015 and has now delivered 10,000 bags to help children in need.
Its target is to deliver 20,200 Buddy Bags by 2020, which are tailored to babies and children aged between birth and 18. They are stuffed with items including pyjamas, toothbrushes, clothing and soft toys to help children cope with the trauma and upheaval of being placed into care.
Mrs Williams started the Buddy Bag Foundation in response to the growing number of children who enter emergency care in the UK each year.
Since then the charity has gone from strength to strength and last autumn caught the attention of Theresa May's office, and was named winner of the Prime Minister's Points of Light award for its outstanding work.
The award recognises outstanding individual volunteers who are making a change in their community.
She said: "Around 50,000 children require emergency care in the UK every year. In most cases they arrive in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothing they are standing up in, having fled a violent situation at home.
"From a standing still position, we have worked tirelessly to collect, pack and deliver more than 10,000 Buddy Bags direct to children via 300 women's refuge centres across the UK. Meeting these children first hand and realising the importance of what we do to help them cope at a time when they are at their most vulnerable, has stoked our passion to not rest until we have delivered a Buddy Bag to every child in the UK who finds themselves in this position."
During the past two and a half years Mrs Williams and her team have enlisted the help of hundreds of volunteers and organisations including the Girl Guides who created their own Buddy Bag Badge, the Utility Warehouse Discount Club, the Rotary Club, and many other businesses who have offered their skills free of charge.
Mrs Williams said: "It costs £25 to fill a buddy bag, to help us reach our final target of 20,200 buddy bags by 2020, we are looking to raise more than £255,000. However we don't just need money, any company or individual who would like to get involved can help. I thank everyone who has given their time or donated money and look forward to smashing our 20,200 target - hopefully a little earlier."
More information on the Buddy Bag Foundation is available at www.buddybagfoundation.co.uk
How the Buddy Bag Foundation works
The Buddy Bags are paid for through fund-raising, sponsorship and donations. Groups of items can either be donated or sponsored and individual volunteers or companies looking for community projects to support can meet at venues throughout the West Midlands every fortnight to help fill the back packs.
The idea for the foundation came to Karen Williams during a visit to Australia in 2014. She was inspired by an article about the Alannah and Madeline Foundation (www.amf.org.au) which has delivered more than 50,000 Buddy Bags to children in emergency care since 2007.
On her return from Australia, Mrs Williams researched the facilities available to children in emergency care in the UK and discovered a huge need for Buddy Bags here. To ensure as many children as possible can benefit from the scheme, she set up The Buddy Bag Foundation and launched the Buddy Bag appeal in the UK, with the help and support of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.