A charity that provides children in care with rucksacks full of brand new and essential items raised £20,000 during a fundraising dinner.

Comfort Cases UK, which launched in 2021, fills backpacks which are designed to give comfort to youngsters entering the foster care system.

Chief executive Sarah Laster, who lives in Shenley, says she has heard "distressing stories" of young people moving from home to home with nothing but the clothes on their back and few items carried around in bin bags, sending an invisible message of being worthless, unlovable, and unwanted.

The free rucksacks can be filled with new items such as pyjamas, blankets, soft toys, books, and a hygiene pack.

Times Series: Comfort Cases aim to replace bin bags and the stigma that can be attached with the bin bagsComfort Cases aim to replace bin bags and the stigma that can be attached with the bin bags

Comfort Cases was founded in the USA ten years ago by Rob Scheer, who was in care between the ages of 12 and 18. He then became homeless again, packing up his belongings in a bin bag. However, Mr Scheer has forged a hugely successful career and nearly 30 years later, began welcoming children into his home after becoming a foster parent himself.

Mr Scheer, who has shared his story and the Comfort Cases journey on the likes of the Ellen DeGeneres show, was invited to Comfort Cases' UK launch at the Twenty Events venue in Whetstone on May 25.

He was joined by representatives of the Comfort Cases team, which are mostly north London and Hertfordshire based, as well as friends and family of the charity, sponsors, and foster carers.

Times Series: Katie Icklow, Rob Scheer, and Sarah Laster with supporters from the Jasper FoundationKatie Icklow, Rob Scheer, and Sarah Laster with supporters from the Jasper Foundation

The event heard from key figures within the Comfort Cases team and raised £20,000 towards a goal of £1 million.

Mr Scheer said it was very "overwhelming" to be at the launch and said he knows the community gets the issue Comfort Cases strives to tackle.

Comfort Cases, which so far has given out more than 1,700 rucksacks and duffel bags in the UK, works with local authorities in providing the rucksacks which are then distributed to the children within the care system.

Times Series: Comfort Cases UK head of trustees Richard AdlerComfort Cases UK head of trustees Richard Adler

Chief executive Sarah and chief operations officer Katie Icklow, from Borehamwood, say it is their "dream" for every social worker in the UK to have access to their comfort cases. They are also supporting Ukrainian refugees and say the essential items are a "basic right" for children going through "horrendous" circumstances.

The charity's ambassador Rosie Wainwright knows first hand what these rucksacks mean, as she was a foster child herself during her teenage years,

Rosie, who went on to study at college and university, said: "Comfort cases is needed here. The impact of a rucksack is huge because you feel like no one cares about you, so to get something that isn’t second hand is really important."

Times Series: Rosie WainwrightRosie Wainwright

Comfort Cases UK is looking to expand its reach to connect as many local authorities across the UK as possible and needs £1 million to fulfil the increasing demand within the foster care community.

For more information about the charity, and if you want to help donate, contact hello@comfortcasesuk.org or visit www.comfortcasesuk.org