Police in Cookstown are to use special teddy bears to comfort young children they meet when responding to incidents such as road traffic collisions and domestic incidents.
Officers will carry the cuddly toys in their cars as part of a new ‘Trauma Teddies’ scheme - a joint initiative involving the PSNI and Mid Ulster Victims’ Empowerment (MUVE) project.
The hand-knitted bears will be stored in patrol cars and handed out to any vulnerable children and adults officers meet while responding to incidents and emergencies.
The idea of the teddies originated in Australia where firefighters gave children teddy bears as they fled the bush fires that had destroyed all of their belongings.
Similar schemes have been launched by the Red Cross - who hand them out to children living in poverty and child refugees - and by a handful of police forces across the UK. But it’s thought this is the first time the ‘Trauma Teddy’ has made an appearance with the emergency services in Northern Ireland.
MUVE members have hand-knitted a number of teddies that police officers in the Cookstown area will be able to give to local children.
Gordon Kinloch, Project Coordinator at MUVE, explained: “MUVE is an essential service that offers care and support to innocent victims of the troubles in the Mid Ulster area and this project has helped us to support children and young people in the community through the ‘Trauma Teddies’.
“MUVE were aware of the positive impact of the trauma teddies in other areas and felt passionate about launching this in Mid Ulster in partnership with the PSNI.
“We are grateful to all our members who have taken the time to knit and donate teddies and are continuing to produce them in their own time. We hope that this will provide much needed support to children in their time of need.”
The scheme was officially launched on Wednesday, April 18 and police patrol cars will start carrying the ‘Trauma Teddies’ in the coming days.