A PEMBROKE woman is calling on fellow crafters in the county to help provide help for animals caught up in the devastating fires raging through Australia.

The wildfires, which began in September, have scorched an area roughly the size of Croatia, killing at least 24 people and destroying some 2,000 homes.

It is estimated as many as half a billion animals may have been killed in the fires, with many more needing help.

Crafter Kim Emens, of Main Street, was so moved by the plight of the many animals suffering that she set up Pembrokeshire Support for Australian Animal Rescue to provide help and support for the people rescuing and caring for the thousands upon thousands of wild animals in distress from the bush fires.

Kim is using her craft skills to knit and produce nests, blankets, pouches, wraps, and other items, which are much needed.

She is calling on fellow crafters, and anyone who can help to get involved.

“The news reports, videos, pictures and comments bombarding us on social media were harrowing and upsetting,” said Kim, who has gained sponsorship support from Pembrokeshire Photography/ Skycam Wales.

“I felt impotent. What could I do from so far away? I have set up an account to make small monthly payments to one rescue organisation, but did not feel it was enough.

“I am a crafter, and, as time passed, I realised social media was being flooded with calls for help in making items to help rescued animals.

“There was so much information (which was often times conflicting or flat-out misinformation) from a variety of different sources. There were a lot of questions raised and confusion seemed to grow.

“I decided that, as a crafter, the very least I could do was help by making things that were needed. That was definitely something I could do. Then I thought about recruiting fellow crafters.

“With this in mind I decided I would concentrate on helping one organisation only, to keep information gathering and sharing more simple. I have chosen Animal Rescue Collective (ARC). They have their own craft guild who have provided specific crafting instructions and guidelines based on their vast experience and knowledge of indigenous wildlife rescue.

“They know which materials, fabrics and types of yarn are most (and indeed least) desirable. They know seams inside pouches or nests could be a problem; that fashion bobbles on yarn might be a danger if a Joey attempts to chew it; that little holes in knit or crochet items could be a problem if tiny feet slip through and get trapped, so the correct stitches, yarn weight and tension must be used; that smaller marsupials require natural fibres only; that bats and flying foxes can only have fabric wraps and blankets, not yarn.

“So many things to take into consideration and so many different items needed. Sweaters for koalas; nests from micro size for young hummingbirds all the way up to larger for bigger birds and marsupials; bird sweaters; blankets; all different sized pouches; bat wraps and more I may have forgotten for now.

“By setting up the group I am hoping that I can, at the very least, try and ensure that confusion is kept to a minimum for Pembrokeshire crafters and that they will all adhere to the crafting guidelines as much as possible.

“This has the added bonus of bringing Pembrokeshire crafters together. Not only has it created a great community spirit, it has also, I believe, given a lot of people a way to feel they are helping. I am also encouraging financial donations direct to ARC and have posted a link in the group, plus information on other things that can be done to help as and when I become aware of them.”

Kim added: “I would like to quote part of a comment posted by a lady in Australia who clearly acknowledges and appreciates our help and encourages us to keep on doing what we are doing: ‘As an Australian it really warms my heart to see so much giving from all over the World! Over here we feel pretty alone most of the time (what with the oceans and such)... You guys have no idea how much every stitch or every dollar means to us over here. FYI once the flames are gone, don’t stop. The animals will still need us. Their homes won’t grow back for a couple of years and sadly the flames will come back - this is Australia’.

“Australia may be thousands of miles away, but the in 21st century the world has become a much smaller place. The next town, the next county, the next country are just a few strokes on a keyboard away. Another continent is no different. I can’t be responsible for how the rest of the world responds, but I hope I can take some responsibility in making sure Pembrokeshire responds appropriately in just one small area of help that is needed.

“There are many other ways Australia will need our help. People have lost their homes. They have lost the clothes off their back, their livestock, their livelihood. It will take a very long time for Australia to heal. I am having faith that other organisations are helping in these areas. I will concentrate on the animals. If we spread ourselves too thinly our help becomes less effective.”

Skycam Wales/Pembrokeshire Photography said: “We are happy to help - we are animal lovers and want to do our ‘bit’ -people can donate through us towards materials for the crafters or towards shipping costs - please get in touch through social media. We’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or email info@skycamwales.com”