Northland’s Bald Angels are spreading their wings to the capital.
The charity has been donating tiny soft toys called Angel Bears to Northland Police staff, who give them to children in need of comfort at police jobs. They are also used by other emergency services.
Now they have arrived in Wellington. Sergeant Courtney Sandilands, Road Policing Team Section Supervisor in Wellington, hopes all districts will soon have them.
“The Angel Bears project started out in Northland when I was working as a constable up there in 2015,” says Courtney.
“The bears were given to Police and other frontline responders to hand out to tamariki at critical incidents or other jobs involving children such as family harm. Basically it was to make the kids feel better on a bad day.”
While the bears are not specific to road policing, she says, they have often been distributed during crashes and other roading incidents.
On one occasion she stopped a speeding driver who had been involved in a shoplifting incident, and who had a child in the back seat. The driver said the shoplifting was the result of a 'miscommunication' and became angry and frustrated.
“The child was clearly upset so I gave her a bear as a gift to brighten her day,” says Courtney. “The child was thrilled, and the parent was surprised that a police officer would do that.
“The driver later returned and paid for the item, which was described as out of character for her.
"I would like to think the act of giving a bear not only helped the child feel better but gave the driver a different perspective of Police and contributed to her returning to the store.”
Courtney says she has seen amazing benefits when giving out bears - and has continued to do so after moving south.
“When I moved to Wellington, I was getting low on my bag of Angel Bears and approached my boss regarding bringing the bears to RP in Wellington. My boss was very supportive of the initiative.”
The Bald Angels Charity is excited about the bears reaching Wellington District. Founder Thérèse Wickbom says the stories about the positive impact they have are heart-warming.
“When Courtney asked if we could support Police in the Wellington rohe, we were thrilled to partner them. We love that Wellington Police want children to feel safe and comforted.”
The Kerikeri-based Bald Angels Charitable Trust was founded in 2012. It supports more than 400 families and thousands of vulnerable taitamariki (children/young people) every year, running projects and programmes in Northland and elsewhere.
Angel Bears can be found at hospitals, Women’s Refuges and social services around the Far North, as well as in emergency services vehicles for distribution to children in trauma.
THE BEAR NECESSITIES