Knitters purling for a better life

PLANNED Activity Group participants were rewarded for their hours of knitting when their items were donated to provide ‘A Better Life for Foster Kids’ on Wednesday.

A Better Life for Foster Kids founder, Heather Baird, was on hand to accept the knitted items of clothing that will be packaged in crisis cases to help infants entering the foster care system. The crisis cases also include toys and toiletries, and are made for children from birth to 18 years of age.

Hundreds of crisis cases have been created by Heather and a growing number of volunteers, to help children and foster carers for the first week of entering care.

Having grown up in the foster care system, Heather saw a need to put the child first.

“It’s hard because when the child enters foster care, they often come with only the clothes on their back,” she said.

“Our crisis cases means the carer doesn’t have to worry about the fact the child’s turned up in a nappy and nothing more. If we can provide nice clothing and help, then that leaves the carer to focus on the child.”

Team leader home and social support services, Celia Johnston, said PAG participants often volunteered their time to support various charities and found this experience especially rewarding.

“The participants are all over 65 years old and initially came together once a week to garden,” Ms Johnston explained.

“Members socialise, swap patterns and have a raucous fun afternoon with productive crafting occurring. They all love it and it is growing in strength.”

The Wednesday PAG group knits and crochets for the foster children, as well as collects toys and makes blankets. Staff have also collected small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and soap from motels when they visit to put into packs for foster care.

The Thursday Rosedale PAG group knits singlets and beanies for children with Aids, as well as supporting Senior Constable Kim Kell to collect and distribute blankets, clothing and accessories for the homeless in Melbourne.

“The PAG participants may find that their knitting needles might be in great demand as many care agencies, from Dandenong to Bairnsdale, have approached A Better Life for Foster Kids for help,” Ms Baird exclaimed.

The project was far reaching and gave PAG participants an insight into the struggles experienced in the foster care system and its shortcomings.

“I am so thankful that the PAG participants chose to support A Better Life for Foster Kids,” Ms Baird said.

“If we can provide nice clothing and help, then that leaves the carer to make the child their priority.”

The crisis cases will be distributed to the Department of Health and Human Services, agencies and social networks that will then trickle them through to foster carers.

“It’s something I’d like to get into every single agency, police station and child protection office, so that when a child is removed they’ve got that crisis case there,” Ms Baird said.

“It’s the victim that needs to be looked after and that’s what the PAG participants did today.”