Trauma Teddies bring comfort

little girl cuddling trauma teddies

You may have read about, or seen, a Trauma Teddy, particularly if you have been in a situation of crisis. It has become known as a way to calm and comfort those experiencing a difficult situation.

Red Cross Trauma Teddies were born in Campbelltown NSW, conceived in 1990 by Richard Hamilton, then Superintendent of Campbelltown ambulance service. He saw a teddy bear given to a child being treated by the ambulance service in Camden. He saw the calming influence of the bear on the child and so the idea was born. Richard enlisted his mother Vera Hamilton asking her to encourage the Red Cross to assist in providing more bears for children treated by the ambulance. Red Cross took up the challenge and the Red Cross Trauma Teddy was born. Norma Elder organised a suitable pattern, a team of knitters, wool and stuffing and production began. The rest is history. Across Australia tens of thousands of Trauma Teddies are given out each year to a diverse range of services, and to people affected by fire, floods or other disasters. They play a role in comforting people in times of distress and anxiety. Each year hundreds of Trauma Teddies arrive all year round at doctors’ surgeries, children’s hospitals, women’s hospices, bushfire evacuation centres (and more) to find forever homes with someone who loves them. They are constantly handed out by Red Cross staff and volunteers to people who are in need of a little knitted hug.

While knitters come from throughout the community, every Trauma Teddy must undergo a strict quality inspection for safety. Only a safe and strong teddy can become a Red Cross Trauma Teddy as those teddies will be hugged and chewed by a distressed little child, or held hard by someone in pain. It must be made of clean, safe materials and must not fall apart.

That project was started 31 years ago and last year was the thirtieth anniversary. Members of Morwell and District Red Cross Branch began their involvement a few years ago and at present have totalled over 200 in different stages of completion. The event of COVID restrictions allowed for more to stay at home and encouraged more knitting. Five members knit, others sew them up and others do the stuffings, the faces or sew on the badges. The team says it is great working together to complete such a useful and desired end product.

Morwell and District Red Cross has distributed theirs to our local hospitals, dentists, pathology centres, Ambulance Stations, Fire Brigades, Police Stations, Anglicare, Quantum Support Services, the Red Cross shop in Traralgon and other appropriate places. Some of the branch members are also Red Cross Emergency Service Volunteers. They take Trauma Teddies when activated to Single Incidents, Outreach Events, Relief and Recovery Centres. Significant quantities were distributed at Relief Centres during the 2020 Wildfires.

The influence of the Trauma Teddies is not confined to Red Cross members. Others in the community have noticed the efforts, or experienced the positive effects of the teddies and have eagerly joined the makers. Many special people have offered their help.

Trauma Teddies thank you note

One lady is her husband’s carer so she spends a lot of time at home and finds the knitting gives her a sense or doing something worthwhile. She particularly knits small teddies to give to little children whose mothers are in care.

Another lady who has low mobility says she reaps a sense of appreciation that people like what she does and that she knows how worthwhile the outcome is. Wool is delivered to her.

One lady’s granddaughter Millie was in hospital seriously ill. To help her through her treatment. Millie was comforted and cheered by two Trauma Teddies. Millie was so appreciative that she wrote a letter to the Red Cross. It reads “When I first got my teddies I felt comfortable and warm. The teddies made me feel happy and safe. I loved cuddling up with them in hospital. And I still love cuddling up with them now as well. Thank you very much.” This is just one example of the lovely impact trauma teddies have. Millie’s grandmother saw the enormous benefits of the teddies and has set about knitting them too.

Congratulations to our Morwell and District Red Cross Trauma Teddy team who have contributed so much to this special project.

Group of trauma teddies


Churchill and District News is a community newspaper staffed by volunteers.


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