Written by current Rising Star winner Laura Brown and previous Rising Star winner Akua Opong

How you can make a difference by hosting a Buddy Bag Brigade event

What is a Buddy Bag?

A Buddy Bag is a backpack that contains all the essential items a child needs. They include toiletries, pyjamas, socks and underwear, in addition to comfort items such as a book and a teddy bear.

A Buddy Bag is something a child can call their own, no matter where they go. Buddy Bags are tailored to suit babies, children and young people according to age groups and gender.

History behind the Buddy Bag

The idea for the Buddy Bag Foundation came from a trip to Australia in 2014. The founder, Karen Williams OBE, was inspired by an article about The A&M Foundation, which has delivered more than 100,000 Buddy Bags to children in emergency care in Australia since 2007.

On returning to the UK, Karen researched the facilities available to children in emergency care and discovered a huge need for Buddy Bags in the UK.

To ensure as many children as possible can benefit from the Buddy Bag scheme, Karen set up the Buddy Bag Foundation and launched the Buddy Bag appeal in the UK, with the help and support of The A&M Foundation.

What is the initiative and how does the Buddy Bag help children?

Every year, thousands of children in the UK are forced to leave their homes and seek emergency accommodation, often due to domestic violence or abuse. These children face trauma, uncertainty, and fear, and they may not have any of their personal belongings with them. Imagine how it would feel to have nothing but the clothes on your back, and no idea where you are going or what will happen next.

The Buddy Bag Foundation is a charity that aims to restore a sense of safety and security to these children by providing them with a Buddy Bag, a backpack filled with essential items for their first night away from home. Each Buddy Bag contains a teddy bear, a toothbrush, a toothpaste, a hairbrush, a pair of pyjamas, a book, and a photo frame. These items are carefully selected to help the child feel comforted, cared for, and valued. The Buddy Bag also includes a personal message of support from the donor, letting the child know that someone is thinking of them and wishing them well.

The Buddy Bag Foundation operates nationwide and works with local communities all over the UK, ensuring that 100% of donations go directly towards providing these essential bags to children in refugee centres. With just £25, you can change the life of at least one child. You can also make a difference by hosting a Buddy Bag Brigade event in your office, a half-day team-building event where you and your colleagues pack around 180 Buddy Bags. It’s an opportunity for 20 – 360 people to directly contribute to the packaging of Buddy Bags and often deliver them to the women’s refuge centres in their local community. Attendees are responsible for deciding the most efficient way to manage the team, organise the items, and pack the bags. It makes for a fun, meaningful and rewarding event.

How to get involved

If you are interested in hosting a Buddy Bag Brigade event, please visit CSR | The Buddy Bag Foundation to find out more and book your date. You can also follow the Buddy Bag Foundation on social media and spread the word about their amazing work.

Together, we can make a difference for children in crisis and give them a reason to smile.

Both Laura (Wells Fargo) and Akua (LSEG) at their respective companies work with various charities. They will be hosting Buddy Bag sessions on different days as part of Corporate Social Responsibility to use their volunteering days.

More information can be found on the links:

Buddy Bag Foundation – The-BBF-Factsheet-CSR.pdf (buddybagfoundation.co.uk)

Partnering with the Buddy Bag – BBF-Corporate-Brochure

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