Little Alfie Mitchell from Royton in Oldham can have dozens of seizures each day. Added to this he can’t sit without support and has to be pushed everywhere in a wheelchair. But his family weren’t able to push him very far in his old, heavy wheelchair – and with the seat only facing forwards they couldn’t always see if he was having a seizure.
Mum Lisa Mitchell said: “His wheelchair meant he could get to school, but we didn’t like to take him very far in it otherwise because we couldn’t easily monitor him and it was very bumpy for Alfie so his head would be nodding around. We desperately needed something with a lot of extra support and with a seat that could be turned to face us – but nothing like that was available locally.”
Now, thanks to funds raised by fashion store chain River Island, Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children has provided four-year-old Alfie with a specialist £2,860 lightweight wheelchair that fully supports his head and body and with a seat that can be swivelled to face front or back, depending on his health.
River Island supports Newlife through a ‘fantastic plastic’ initiative, donating the profit from the sale of its 5p carrier bags – from every store in the UK – to the charity, specifically to fund vital equipment like Alfie’s.
Lisa said: “His new wheelchair looks more like a buggy and is much comfier for Alfie – I can see that in his face – and it’s lighter and easier for us to push around so we can take him out more. It’s so smooth it glides, which means Alfie isn’t being bounced around like he was.
“When he is having a lot of seizures we can make sure he is facing us, so we can keep a close eye on him and reassure him – and the equipment comes with a big hood so he can have a bit of privacy while he rests and recovers.”