Can you knit-with-love (or sew, or crochet) for our abandoned, persecuted and abused children?
The Forever Friends Project
Earlier this year we opened the doors of our first Emergency Safehouse Shelter, in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.
Offering 8 comfortable beds in a secure compound, complemented by sanitation, round-the-clock care, nutritious meals and emergency medical support, our Safehouse team and facility offer persecuted and abused children a truly viable and completely safe alternative to staying with their abuser or fleeing to the streets.
The Safehouse was developed after it became clear there was a desperate need to provide temporary shelter for children fleeing a range of abusive situations including child witchcraft accusations and sexual abuse. Our work with persecuted children and babies over the last 10 years has shown that every case of abuse is unique. So the practical care and support we provide to each child who comes through our door at our Safehouse is built around their unique physical, emotional and social welfare needs.
What is common to all children who arrive at our Safehouse, is the nurturing, warm welcome from our team, their cosy bed and the knowledge they can sleep safely and securely, free from danger.
Why 'Forever Friends' are so important
Now, we want to make that first night at our Safehouse even better for these children. We would like to provide every child with a comforting 'cuddly' that they can snuggle up with from their first night with us, and that they can keep forever - a Forever Friend..
Many of the children we support have never known kindness, They have never known what it means to hold something that is theirs and theirs alone. Some have never owned a toy.
We want to ask our crafty supporters to ‘knit-with-love’ (or sew or crochet) a ‘Forever Friend’ along the lines of this one made by Sarah.
Sarah's little ted is currently winging his way to our Safehouse in Calabar, Cross Rivers State in the Niger Delta. We hope he will bring comfort to a child as they take their first steps to recovery and a future free from fear.
Could you (or someone you know) knit, crochet or sew with love so that every child who arrives at our Safehouse has a 'Forever Friend' waiting for them to cuddle?
Our Emergency Safehouse is a temporary accommodation facility. We expect children to stay with us for up to 7 nights while a more suitable, longer term solution - such as foster care - is found.
Meeting the demand
With 8 beds, and an expected duration of up to 7 nights, we expect that a vast number of children will pass through our Safehouse, so we need a vast number of Forever Friends!
The boys and girls we support range in age from 0-15 with the majority being under 10 years of age.
If you would like to help, we would be delighted and incredibly grateful. Please read through these guidelines before you start, and let us know if there's anything else you would like to know, that we haven't covered.
Forever Friends Guidelines
Please make your Forever Friend from wool, acrylic yarn or fabric so that it is washable. Please ensure that all seams and closures are super secure.
For the 'filling' please ensure you use 'NEW' filling only, and one that complies with UK Toy safety standards EN71 (most commercially available toy stuffings are compatible with this)
Our children can be as young as 0- 3 years old, so please avoid using fixings (such as eyes, noses etc) if there is a risk they could break away and cause a choking hazard. Sewn/stitched features get round this problem or using child-safe eyes and noses is fine.
SIZE and shape:
Please aim to make your Forever Friend between approx 15cm and 30cm in length - we request these limits because we have to post them to Nigeria or fit them into our suitcases when we visit! Therefore the smaller they are the more we can fit in. That said, if yours is a little bigger, it isn't a problem.
Friends come in all shapes and sizes and that's true for our Forever Friends too! We welcome toys in the shape of frogs, rabbits, lions, monkeys, dinosaurs, cats, birds, meerkats, fish...whatever takes your fancy. Perhaps you could knit a cuddly train, bus or car? Our shelter is available to both boys and girls, so if your toy isn't gender specific, even better! And if you want to go traditional, teddy bears are always welcome too!
Here are some free patterns that might be useful.
None of these have been tested by any of our team and none of these blogs/sites are affiliated to Safe Child Africa in any way. There are many other FREE patterns available online.
QUANTITY and timescale:
You can make 1 or 100, there really are no absolutes in terms of quantity, because there are always children in our projects who will need - and treasure - a Forever Friend. We will dispatch the toys in phases, and by the most economical means - taking them with us on visits where possible to reduce postage costs.
If you would like us to let you know when yours have been dispatched to Nigeria, please include a note with your toys, together with your full name and e-mail address. Due to safeguarding and respecting the confidentiality of the children we look after, we aren't able to provide detailed feedback or photographs regarding the child who has received your gift.
READY TO SEND THEM TO US?:
When your Forever Friends are ready, please send them to our Manchester address, at the bottom of this page. It would be helpful if you could drop us a message - so we know to look out for them.
If you are sending a large quantity or as part of a group, it's worth messaging us before you post, just in case we can collect or meet somewhere to save postage for you. Obviously it depend on logistics - but using our team, board of trustees and friends we will do our best if at all possible.
.Any more questions? If there's anything else you want to know, please ask!
Please message us: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com