KIDS in the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine are cuddling up to a rather special teddy bear, writes Ruth Coils.
The Irish Freemasons project, ‘Teddies for Loving Care’ (TLC), has seen teddy bears being placed in A&E departments across the north.
The Londonderry and Donegal TLC launch took place at a meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge in the Lodge Hotel, Coleraine last month.
For most children, a trip to A&E is a frightening and distressing experience. TLC, however, aims to overcome this with their hygienic teddy bears.
Children previously admitted to Causeway Hospital, or any other hospital, were unable to bring in their own cuddly toys due to infection control.
Now however, the medical staff will, at their own discretion, be able to provide children with a TLC teddy bear in order to alleviate stress and enable them to carry out important work.
Not only can these bears be used as a comforter and distraction, but they can also be used to demonstrate procedures, such as injections, plasters and bandages.
Best of all, the teddy is theirs to keep, as a gift from the freemasons.
The Northern launch of TLC was held at Craigavon Area Hospital last month, with BIG TED being the guest of honour.
Since then, the teddies have been made available not only in Craigavon, but also in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, and at Causeway Hospital.
The money for the teddy bears has come from brethren of Irish Masonic Lodges. As well as individual donations, funds are also being raised through the sale of merchandise, including lapel pins and TLC teddy bears.
Brethren are appealing for support of the public for fundraising for TLC, and hope that donations will come from individuals as well as the local lodges
TLC began twelve years ago in Essex, providing teddy bears free to hospitals.