We have just packed our 70,000th Buddy Bag!
Steven Morris and Dion Prestia from Community Partner, the Richmond Football Club, visited the Foundation’s offices to take part in this very special occasion.
The program was started in 2007 in response to the overwhelming need to provide basic, essential items to children who are placed in emergency foster care or domestic violence refuges.
Most of the time these children leave home with only the clothes on their back. As a result, the bags are considered more than just essential material items, as they return a sense of dignity and security to a child and parent during a time of anxiety and confusion.
The bags – sent right across the country – are filled with essential items including a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, pyjamas, underwear, pillowcase, facewasher, a book, photo frame and a teddy bear.
In the past 12 months, the Foundation has sent out a record 10,000 Buddy Bags and expects to send even more in 2017.
Earlier this year, the Foundation conducted an evaluation of the more than 400 receiver agencies that distribute the bags. The evaluation found that 100 per cent found Buddy Bags were beneficial to children as well as staff when trying to “break the ice” when children first arrive.
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta said the Foundation was committed to supporting as many children as possible through the Buddy Bags program and called on the community to donate in order to expand its reach.
“I wish this was a service that wasn’t required, that all children felt safe at home with their families, but unfortunately this isn’t the case.
“We know that more than one million children live with violence in the home. My hope is that every child in need of a Buddy Bag receives one. ” Ms Podesta said.
Morris – who has already been involved in a number of Foundation initiatives – said it was a privilege to support such an important charity that helped children right across Australia.
“Programs, like Buddy Bags, really do make a difference to children. Any chance we get to help out the Foundation, we jump at.”
The Foundation receives written feedback from mothers, carers and children about their experience with Buddy Bags every day. Miki, whose children have previously received Buddy Bags, said the program had supported her and her young family during an extremely traumatic time.
“My kids still have their teddies that came with their Buddy Bags when we first went to the women's refuge over three years ago,” Miki said. “It's a great incentive to put a smile on children's faces who have had to deal with domestic violence.”
The Buddy Bags Foundation in the UK has also modelled its program on the Alannah & Madeline Foundation’s and is now helping hundreds of children on the other side of the world.
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