By Tom Wood
Jude Jones and her Project Paddington colleagues are trying to send every refugee child a teddy with the help from the children of Sheffield.
Project Paddington aims to deliver teddies to various refugee camps all of the world whilst also teaching children in schools what it is like to be a refugee.
Jude, 34, from Bannerdale Road, can remember the time when founder Joy French set up the charity on Facebook. At first they asked for donations of teddy bears so they could send them by car.
“Joy could not sleep one night after watching the news which showed how much trouble refugees were in,” says Jude.
“Over-night our Facebook group had over 1000 hits, it was crazy to see.”
The charity wants children to help children, and Jude thinks it’s important for Sheffield kids to understand what it’s like to be a refugee.
“Kids know what it’s like to be lost, they know what it’s like to move house and they can understand the type of turmoil it would be if they had to suddenly move to a different country.”
Jude who previously worked at a primary school, believes it is important for the Sheffield children to be welcoming which is why they send letters to the refugees alongside the teddies.
“I didn’t want it to be like we are the Europeans and we are saving you, in my mind I wanted the children to say ‘this is my favourite teddy and I’m giving it to you because you are a child as well’.”
When the Facebook group was set up in 2015, it was getting one hundred likes an hour and the donations of teddies by schools and churches was growing just as fast with over 25,000 teddies being stored in churches and florists all over Sheffield.
The teddies have reached Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan whilst also raising over £40,000 for Tearfund. Jude praised everyone who has helped them a long the way.
“We couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for all the help we got from volunteers and businesses. Sheffield is the city of sanctuary and we should be proud of that.”