Portsmouth charity unveils Robert Bear mascot books to help children going through difficult times

From left,  graphic designer Tom Mclean, author Jennifer Lowis and Renee and Gerry Chilton
From left, graphic designer Tom Mclean, author Jennifer Lowis and Renee and Gerry Chilton
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IT’s devastating for any young child to go through a family break-up and find themselves on the streets.

That’s why one charity in Portsmouth has called on its mascot Robert Bear to ease the pain vulnerable young people go through.

There are many children facing these issues in Portsmouth and around the UK.

Carole Damper

The Roberts Centre in Crasswell Street, Landport, which strives to help families going through difficult times, has published a series of books which see the world through the eyes of the cuddly teddy.

The aim is to reassure children that life can get better – and give them a stronger understanding of their situation.

The first three books deal with situations that many young children the centre supports have to face on a daily basis. They include encountering family debt, suddenly having to move house and a relationship breakdown.

The idea came from the centre’s chief executive officer Carole Damper.

She said: ‘I have looked for a number of years for books that we could give to the children that would reflect their lives, but I was unable to find any.

‘There are many children facing these issues in Portsmouth and around the UK.

‘So although the books are based in Portsmouth it is hoped that they will help children across the UK.’

Carole says she was delighted when well-known local children’s author Jennifer Lowis and graphic designer Tom McLean, based in Southsea, both volunteered to get involved in the project.

She said: ‘We are extremely grateful for all the hard work that Jennifer and Tom have put into these books over the last few months, and to do it for free has just been amazing.

‘Jennifer has been involved with the centre for a number of years, including being our chairman of the trustees, and I knew that her style of writing would be perfect for the four to eight-year-olds these books are aimed at.

‘Tom had only just started his own business when he was introduced to me last year, but in spite of all the pressures that resulted in he was keen to help the community he lives and works in.

‘The imaginative way that he has designed and illustrated the books has helped bring Robert Bear and his stories to life in a fantastic way that I am sure will resonate with the children.’

As well as being available to children supported by the centre, the books and a Robert Bear mascot can be bought on site, as well as from the bookshops at Portsmouth Cathedral and St John’s Catholic Cathedral.

It comes as the centre gears up to hold a 12-month series of events marking its 30th anniversary, which is next year.

The celebrations begin on Sunday, October 16, when St John’s Catholic Cathedral holds a ‘teddy bear service’ to highlight the work of the centre and launch the sale of the Robert Bear books.