Cuddly toys have been popping up around the city to bring a smile to children during lockdown.
Nursery worker Jayne Myatt and her daughter have been leaving soft toys at various locations to be found by youngsters enjoying their outdoor exercise.
The idea has proved so popular that Jayne set up a dedicated Facebook page – The Adventures of Lockdown Bear and Friends – which has attracted interest from around the country.
Jayne, who lives at Weston Coyney, said the idea started with her 14-year-old daughter Jasmine. “Jasmine was tidying her bedroom and sorted out a teddy,” said 36-year-old Jayne. “We couldn’t give it to the charity shop because they are closed, so we said, ‘Why don’t we leave it for another child to find?’
“We left him on Weston Heights, where we lived, with a note asking whoever found him to put it on social media. A couple of days later he turned up on residents’ page. Jasmine sorted out some more toys and it went from there. My friends have been leaving lots of teddies in areas around the city.
“Other people wanted to join in and I set up a Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. There are already 765 people in it and we have had bears found in Scotland, Manchester, Stratford-upon-Avon and London. It has been so popular that we have had to ask for donations of toys.
“Children haven’t been able to go to school or see their friends, and the idea of the bear was to give them a new friend. I didn’t expect it to catch on like this at all.”
Teddies are now being left in several areas of the city including Blurton and Meir, and the idea has been taken up in other parts of the country. Each toy is accompanied by a note which asks the finder to look after it, and post in the Facebook group.
Jayne, who has been furloughed by her employer for 10 weeks, said: “We make it clear in the Facebook page that all toys are washed and disinfected before left out and everyone who joins in by leaving toys out has been doing the same.
“Lots of people have posted photos of their children and their little faces are lit up – it makes their day. Parents have commented that it’s helped them get their children out of the house because they love trying to find them.
“My friend left some one the doorstep of a parent who was Covid-positive who could not leave the house. We’ve also had grandparents who can’t see their grandchildren ask if we can leave them near their grandchildren’s house for them to find.
“Hopefully when lockdown has passed the children will remember when they went out for a walk and found their teddy.”