NATIONWIDE employees have joined forces to put together 140 comfort bags for foster children who have just arrived at their new homes.

The practice manager at the building society’s Swindon branch, 42-year-old Sian Briddon,42, came up with the idea after experiencing the ups and downs of fostering children first hand.

Sian, who has looked after as many as 20 children over the years, was inspired by the US-based organisation Comfort Cases which distributes bags filled with essential items to foster children to help them settle in when they find a family to look after them.

“Some of them only have the clothes on their back when they go into care,” said Sian, who lives in Sherston.

She wanted to bring the idea to life in the UK so teamed up with her colleagues as part of Nationwide’s Future Leadership Programme, which gives employees the chance to progress in the business. Between them, the branch put together dozens of bags by going out with shopping lists – and often their own children too – to buy items to fill them with.

Toys, stationery, toiletries and tokens fill the patterned rucksacks, which are tailor made for recipients depending on whether they are a boy or a girl, a teenager or younger.

Nationwide employees gathered at the Lyndhurst Centre in Park North for the launch of the scheme, where the bags were lined up waiting to be distributed.

According to The Fostering Network, nearly 64,000 children live with almost 55,000 foster families across the UK.