Ipswich resident Barbara Banar has knitted more than 100 teddy bears for local police to help them to connect with children who have been involved in traumatic incidents.
An ex-volunteer in policing herself, Ms Banar said she started knitting the bears after being involved in a motor vehicle accident which kept her housebound for five months.
“I was a volunteer in the Crime Prevention Unit at Yamanto for around eight years, so I was aware of the work that our local police officers do including attending domestic and family violence incidents and motor vehicle accidents,” she said.
“I came to realise that it is the children who need the comfort in these cases.
“So while I was rehabilitating, I started to knit teddy bears to donate to local police stations as well as the Child Protection and Investigation Unit and Indigenous police liaison officers.
“I have made over 100 bears, but it’s not the number that counts. It is the expression on the child’s face when they are handed a bear that matters.”
Acting sergeant Kerrin Sheedy from the Ipswich Crime Prevention Unit said the teddy bears help officers break down barriers to support children involved in incidents.
“Experiencing a crime or observing an incident such as a motor vehicle accident can be traumatic for anyone, but children in particular might not understand what is happening or know how to react,” acting sergeant Sheedy said.
“The teddy provides comfort whilst going through a difficult time.
“Our officers use Barbara’s teddy bears to interact with children in distress and provide a comforting distraction when they need it most.”
Ms Banar said her experience volunteering with Ipswich Police gave her a sense of personal fulfillment.
“I have always enjoyed working with the public and supporting Ipswich Police, and volunteering has given me the opportunity to do this and gain new skills,” she said.
“It gave me personal satisfaction and a sense of pride that comes from doing something worthwhile for my community.”
Acting sergeant Sheedy said volunteers play an important role in the Ipswich Police District.
“We currently have 17 volunteers in police in the Ipswich District,” she said.
“They would usually work in a wide range of activities including a number of crime prevention campaigns, programs, projects and strategies across the entire district.
“They can also provide police with additional policing services, crime prevention and customer service to the community, assisting police in forming invaluable partnerships with the community.”
Due to COVID-19 the Ipswich District Crime Prevention Unit has stood down its volunteers in police until it is safe for community engagement. In the meantime, you can find more information on volunteering with police including selection processes and training requirements on the Queensland Police Service website.