Evening Standard – Refugee Crisis: charity initiative sees 30,000 teddy bears reach Syrian children

Around 30,000 teddies are making their way to refugee children thanks to a campaign encouraging British youngsters to donate their bears.

Toys will be delivered to tens of thousands of children affected by the Syrian conflict after one woman’s charity project received an “incredible response”.

Trainee vicar Joy French set up Project Paddington last month, and the initiative has since raised thousands of pounds to help displaced families, and has already made its first delivery of 50 teddy bears to Lebanon.

Ms French, who launched the Facebook initiative after seeing photographs of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned on a Turkish beach, said she was “overwhelmed and delighted” by the response from schools and groups across the UK.

The mother-of-three said the basic idea was for children in the UK to send their teddies to youngsters who have fled war-torn Syria, with supportive messages attached.

A number of famous faces, including Gogglebox vicar Kate Bottley, Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt author Michael Rosen, have all shown their support for the project.

Ms French, 40, said: “We are overwhelmed and delighted by the incredible response we have seen from schools and groups up and down the country.

“We expect to deliver between 20,000 and 30,000 soft toys and teddy bears.”

She added: “We are enjoying seeing the wonderful creativity of Team Project Paddington as new groups find innovative, bear-related ways to show their support for refugee children and families.

“Our strapline is ‘children helping children’ and I think there is a real need for children who have had everything taken away to know that other families care about them.”

A new project, Friends of Project Paddington, has been set up to ask business people to donate their time and skills.

Ms French has appealed for youth workers, secondary school teachers and other professionals to get in touch and help get teenagers involved in the campaign.

Read More: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/refugee-crisis-charity-initiative-sees-30000-teddy-bears-reach-syrian-children-a3092991.html

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