Imagine if your whole world changed in a day. Imagine having to leave everything you own and everyone you know. We spoke with mother-of-three Rachel about how our Buddy Bags program helps children entering an unfamiliar world in emergency accommodation.
You may be shocked to learn 60,000 children require emergency accommodation in Australia each year. Children fleeing violent situations often have to leave home quickly, without the chance to collect basic items. These children arrive in emergency accommodation with just the clothes they are wearing.
Mother-of-three Rachel explained how challenging it can be to leave a violent family situation.
"To leave your home is very difficult when you've got children. You have to take into account that it takes a lot of planning and so many trials. I can't tell you how many times I tried and failed, either because my partner came home unexpectedly or suspected something," Rachel said.
To finally be able to break away from that environment was scary. For the children it's extremely scary because they don't know where they're going. Will the place where they're going be safe?
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation developed the Buddy Bags program to support children entering emergency accommodation. Buddy Bags are backpacks filled with items such as pyjamas, socks, underwear, toiletries, a pillowcase, book, journal and teddy bear. These basic items help children settle into emergency accommodation, providing the basic essentials to maintain their daily routine and offering them simple comforts.
Rachel explained that routine is very important to children.
"Just simple things like to be able to brush their teeth before they go to bed helps them so much because it's something familiar, they know what to do, they know what to expect. To have a simple book to read, I found hugely, hugely benefitted my kids. They can escape - the whole outside world no longer exists and they can escape into this book. Also, to be able to do a drawing and just get all that turmoil out from their little minds out is another huge thing for them," Rachel said.
Since 2007, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation has delivered Buddy Bags to more than 60,000 children in emergency accommodation with help from Buddy Bags Principal Partner, Target. However, with Australian children entering emergency care every day, there's still plenty of work to do and we can't do it without your help.
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