A scheme that has seen some friendly furry faces helping to cheer up nervous youngsters in Oxford Health Urgent Care, Minor Injury Units and GP Out of Hours service has been hailed a success.

The Oxford Health Charity has teamed up with the Freemasons to bring their Teddies for Loving Care, or TLC, idea to Oxford Health Urgent Care Services.

TLC provide teddies to emergency rooms for young people who may be nervous or scared or need reassurance. The Freemasons have been providing teddies for emergency wards for some time, but they are now appearing in Minor Injury Units, first aid and out of hours units.

In just two months around 200 teddies have been given to children and there’s more to come as another 400 have been ordered.

Mandy McKendry, Modern Matron for Minor Injuries, GP Out of Hours and Urgent Care at Abingdon Community Hospital, said:

“The teddies have been a real success and gone down really well and there have been some very nervous children made much happier just by being given one of the lovely toys.

“I get the bears delivered them to the units 20 at a time and they go quite quickly. A child comes and the clinicians judge when the best time is to give them one – for some it may be at the start if they are upset and others may get one later on.

“We have had some great feedback and it’s amazing to think that we have given out 200 already.”

Roger Hampshire from the Oxfordshire Freemasons said:

“It’s a real delight to be involved with TLC and to know that something as small as a teddy can bring such happiness to a child in a stressful situation.

“Around fifteen years ago a lady went to an accident and emergency department in Norfolk and was in the public waiting area where she noticed a lot of distressed children and she wanted to do something to help them.

“When she went home she spoke to her husband, a masons charity steward, and the scheme started then. I am delighted to say that from humble beginnings we are approaching our three-millionth teddy and those given out by Oxford Health have helped us get towards that grand total.”

Julie Pink, Community Involvement Manager at Oxford Health Charity, said:

“In a difficult year, it has been really lovely to work with Urgent Care and the Freemasons to bring this project to life.  The teddies bring a smile to those young people who need to access our services, enhancing the experience of receiving care for them as well as their parents or guardians and the staff supporting them.”

The Freemasons have a process in place which ensures that all the specially manufactured teddies are COVID safe and are sent out in special compostable wrapping. Oxford Health currently has the teddies in its minor injury departments in Witney, Abingdon, Bicester and Henley and the GP out of Hours service, Oxford, and Banbury.

The design of the teddy has been same for 15 years, but a new design is on the way with nose in a heart shape and a label so the child can write the name of the teddy on it.