Birmingham businesses are being urged to help hundreds of children who have been stuck in temporary accommodation since the first coronavirus lockdown amid a rise in domestic violence.
The Buddy Bag Foundation has launched a new challenge to get at least 300 back packs filled with home comforts to the children who have been left living in hotels or B&Bs for months.
Karen Williams, the organisation’s founder, said: “If a family has been the victim of domestic violence and there is no room at a refuge, they have to be housed in a B&B or hotel.
“It was brought to my attention that because of Covid, domestic violence had increased and, as a result, more families in Birmingham had gone into emergency accommodation.
“Because they do not have the support there that they would in a refuge, they need the Buddy Bags even more. The foundation has pledged to supply 300 bags to children living in hotels and B&Bs in the city.”
Sally Dennis, from Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, said: “We have seen how much children and young people appreciate their Buddy Bags when they come into our refuges. We are delighted that the foundation is extending the scheme to children living in bed and breakfast after fleeing domestic abuse – such a great way of supporting this most vulnerable group of children and young people.
“Buddy Bags are important not just because they provide useful items for children in their first few days in a new, strange place, but because they send a message to children that they are valued and that other people care about them and want to support them.”
Businesses that sign up are asked to find 30 participants who will each be given a shopping list of items. The team will then get together, Covid-permitting, to pack the bags. The foundation is also asking business to pledge a donation in lieu of Christmas cards or Secret Santas this year to help make the festive season a little better for the children who receive the bags.
Karen founded the Buddy Bag Foundation in 2014 and since then it has provided almost 30,000 bags to children fleeing violent situations.
Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips is now a patron and said: “Women fleeing an abusive partner or husband worry most about their children and they need comfort, support and care. Apart from essential toiletries, the beautiful Buddy Bags include a book, a photo frame and a teddy bear. This may not sound like much but for a child facing fear and uncertainty this means a great deal. It means a great deal to their moms too. They can see the difference it makes to their child.”
Since the first coronavirus lockdown domestic violence charities have reported big rises in demand for their services and the UN described the worldwide increase as a ‘shadow pandemic’.