Charity delivers ‘My Bags’ for children coming into foster care

PHOTO CAPTION: Cllr David Mellen receives the My Bags from Stuart Ferguson and Nicola Barber

A charity set up to provide essential personal items for children who come into foster care has presented its first ‘My Bags’ to Nottingham City Council.

Packed with useful things – from toothbrushes to teddy bears – the special bags aim to make life a little easier for children who arrive in care for the first time.

Set up by father and daughter Stuart Ferguson and Nicola Barber in May, the My Bag charity has successfully fund-raised enough to see its first set of bags delivered to different venues run by the City Council so that social workers can take them out to the children they are helping.

The charity aims to raise enough money to pay for around 300 bags a year – each costing between £25 and £30. This will cost up to £9,000 annually.

Stuart and Nicola came up with the idea after their own experiences of fostering children. The bags will help children through the difficult first few days of settling into a new home.

Stuart said: “Nicola and I were talking about our experiences of fostering children – particularly the emergency cases. It must be incredibly unsettling for any child, especially the younger ones, to move into a stranger’s house and we thought this would be a lovely way to hopefully make them feel at home as quickly as possible.

“We also hope that the bags will help to build the relationship between the child, the social worker and the foster family; it’s a very simple way of saying to the child: we’ve thought about you and what might make your life easier.”

Three different My Bags are available, with bespoke belongings placed into each:

  • Baby bag (for children aged up to three), with items such as a soft toy, blanket, book and soft ball
  • Primary (for children aged three up to 11), with items such as a teddy bear, water bottle, colouring book and crayons, and a comfort throw
  • Secondary (for 12 to 16-year-olds) – with items including a spare holdall, comfort throw, reading book, playing cards, notebook and pencil case

Nicola added: “The nature of emergency placements can mean that things happen very quickly and sometimes children join their new foster parents with very few personal possessions. We hope that something as simple as a blanket and a teddy to cuddle up to will help make those first few days a little easier.

“But we are a charity and we need support from the public. If someone donates just £2 per month, that would be enough to buy a bag a year.”

The bags are in the four social worker bases in Nottingham, which are Loxley House in the city centre, Bulwell Riverside, Clifton Cornerstone and the Mary Potter Centre in Hyson Green.

Receiving the new bags at Loxley House, Cllr David Mellen, Portfolio Holder for Early Intervention and Early Years at the City Council, said: “This is a wonderful initiative that will make such a difference to the lives of the children who into our care. Stuart and Nicola have achieved a lot in such a short space of time since the charity was launched in May. It’s great to have the bags here in Loxley and I’m sure they will be very well received by both the children and the social workers.”

More information about My Bag is available at www.mybagcharity.co.uk, including how to get in touch to make a donation.

To find out more about fostering with Nottingham City Council, visit www.fosteringnottingham.com

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