For five-year-old Andrew Cooper, who has Autism, life without a specialist buggy had become very restrictive as his mum couldn’t safely take him outside their home in the Olton area of Solihull. However, thanks to fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative, he no longer has to miss out.
Andrew is non-verbal, has no awareness of danger and needs constant supervision. Loud noises and crowds in particular overwhelm him, causing him to have a ‘meltdown’ and run away or drop to the floor and refuse to move. Although being taken outside in a buggy keeps him safe and provides comfort, standard pushchairs just aren’t big enough for older children like Andrew.
Now Andrew has received a specialist buggy from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, which has been the Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity since 2012. Colleagues and customers have raised an amazing £1.3million for Newlife, which has helped more than 600 disabled and terminally ill children in the retailer’s trading area get the specialist equipment they so urgently need.
Andrew’s mum, Tracy, said: “We have already had successful days out that we wouldn't have been able to do without Newlife. Andrew recently enjoyed a trip to the local woods with his younger sister Daisy. As a family, we haven't been able to do this for ages. 'On foot' Andrew would curl up on the ground and cover his ears and either myself or his dad would have to carry him back to the car.
“We also took Andrew and Daisy to a fun fair, which in the past has been very difficult as Andrew does not like the crowds or the noises and lights from the rides. However, Andrew seemed so much happier in his buggy. He felt safe and he actually enjoyed taking a good look at what was going on! We can't wait to take him out and about in the summer. Without the buggy from Newlife, we were limited on places to visit with Andrew. We just want to say a huge thank you to the charity and the fundraisers. It has already made such a difference."
Daniel Beers, Store Manager at Church Road Food Store, in Sheldon, said: “Central England Co-operative takes fundraising to help local communities very seriously, and we are committed to making a positive impact in the local areas in which we trade. Working with Newlife has provided a great opportunity for us to help make life easier for youngsters like Andrew.”
Newlife provides equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness through a range of services. Equipment Grants fund permanent provision; Emergency Equipment Loans support children with unstable, life-threatening or life-limiting illness and those who face injury due to the absence of appropriate equipment; Play Therapy Pods offer loans of sensory toys which aid development; Comfort Capsules help families of terminally ill children make memories. All services are accessed through the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK mobiles and landlines).
Newlife has helped 1,514 children in the West Midlands, with equipment totalling £1,463,843. However, right now there are a further 68 children waiting for help. To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westmidlands. Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: Andrew Cooper