AF&RS recruits 200-strong specialist team

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AFR&S) has recruited a special crew of trauma teddies thanks to a local organisation.

The 200-strong-crew will be spread out across the Service to ride on trucks alongside firefighters and specialist equipment.

The cuddly crew will then be handed out to children involved in traumatic and upsetting incidents who are distressed or in need of reassurance and emotional support.

Kindly knitted by the Knowle Townswomen's Guild in Bristol, it is hoped the teddies will help to make a real difference across the Service area.

Darren Clasper, Risk Reduction Watch Manager at AF&RS, said: “We are absolutely delighted that this group of extraordinary women have come together to provide these trauma teddies.

“We often attend upsetting emergency incidents and we see children in distress who don’t understand what is happening and why they are there.

“As a Service, we understand how scary these experiences can be so any small act of comfort, such as a teddy, will go a long way.

“This gives us an opportunity to engage with children and lessen the impact of a situation. For that, we cannot thank the Knowle Townswomen’s Guild enough.”

Each fire engine around the Service will carry at least two bears at any one time so they can be gifted to children in need, from those at a fire, road traffic collision or simply locked in a bathroom.

The remainder of the bears will sit with the Children and Young Person department and will be handed out at schools and safeguarding.

AF&RS is also a keen advocate of mental health and wellbeing, and has taken big steps recently by providing wellbeing spaces, Trauma Risk Management, and family and wellbeing officers across the Service.

The Knowle Townswomen’s Guild, which kindly knitted the bears, is celebrating its 90th birthday this year and has been key in supporting women and the community throughout the years.

Members have been involved from everything from Women’s Suffrage Societies, raining money to plant trees, encouraging environmental change and campaigning on mental health.

Stella Tratt, of the Knowle Townswomen’s Guild, said: “We are delighted that AF&RS have accepted our offer to provide them with trauma teddies.

“I have distributed the knitting pattern to all the Townswomen’s Guilds in the Avon area and, while there is still a need, we will carry on knitting!”

For more on the Knowle Townswomen’s Guild, visit facebook.com/knowletownswomensguild

For those wishing to knit their own Trauma Teddie, you will need:

  • Double Knit yarns. Mixed, bright colours for clothing and a separate colour for body such as fawn.
  • Small amount of black or dark coloured yarn for stitching face.
  • Size 11 (3mm) knitting needles. A stitch holder or large safety pin would be useful.
  • Stuffing - use polyester or equivalent; foam rubber is not recommended.

KEY:

Garter stitch: - all rows are knitted
Stocking stitch: - one row knit, one row purl

PATTERN:

Paws and trousers:

Using main teddy colour cast on 10 stitches and proceed in garter stitch for 10 rows. Change to trouser colour and continue in garter stitch for 30 rows.
Break off yarn and repeat, casting on again for other leg.
Stitches can be left on pin or stitch holder for ease.
Using garter stitch and trouser colour, knit across all 20 stitches and work 16 rows.

Jumper:

Change to jumper colour and work 24 rows.

Head and Face:

Change to main teddy colour and in stocking stitch work 5.5 inches.
Change back to jumper colour and in garter stitch work 24 rows. Continue working in reverse order to complete legs and paws.
Stitch a happy face onto front of head using back or stem stitch in black or dark coloured yarn. Fold knitting in half at top of head to locate position.
On wrong side, stitch sides of head together then turn right way.

Arms:

Pick up 8 stitches either side of neck join (16 in total) and in garter stitch work 20 rows.
Change to main teddy colour for paws and work a further 10 rows. Cast off. Repeat for other arm.

To Make Up:

On wrong side, stitch up teddy with relevant colours leaving an opening in crotch for stuffing.
Turn to right side.
Stitch across corners of head for ears before stuffing.
Stuff rest of teddy and finish stitching crotch area.
Run a thread around the neck area and draw in slightly to
create better shape.

Scarf:

Cast on 75 stitches in bright coloured yarn and using garter stitch work 4 rows and cast
off. Tie round neck and stitch securely to back of neck.

Do not stitch down at front.