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A partnership between Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children and Marks and Spencer means Umm e Habibah Tariq, from Maidenhead in Berkshire, will soon be able to sit at home in comfort and safety, thanks to the donation of a specialist chair.

The nine-year-old, who is known to her family as Habibah, has Muscular Dystrophy and dislocated hips; she is also fed through a tube in her stomach.

Habibah uses a wheelchair to get around at school, but by the time she gets home she is very tired and struggles to keep herself upright. So she is either propped up on the family sofa with cushions – which doesn’t offer any appropriate postural support – or goes to bed.

Mum Salma Bibi says: “We did have a functional chair at home for Habibah but it wasn’t very comfortable and she couldn’t sit in it for any length of time. Now she sits on the sofa, surrounded by cushions, but still has to concentrate on sitting upright – and then she can’t concentrate on things like her homework.

“Her physiotherapy team tell us she needs a specialist chair that is both comfortable and posturally supportive – but this particular equipment isn’t available through local statutory services.”

The seating is electrically powered to tilt-in-space so that Habibah can be repositioned for comfort and safety at the touch of a button. It will support her whole body – and because it is on wheels she will be able to use it anywhere in the house. Mum Salma added: “Habibah has regular stays in hospital; the chair will go with her so she has an alternative to lying in bed all day as there is no equipment of this sort available on the ward.”

With the equipment costing £4,274, the family turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help. A partnership between Newlife – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – and Marks and Spencer is now providing the chair.

M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Staffordshire and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 240 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £815,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK.

Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”

Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife charity, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families. It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”

Newlife has helped provide £335,968 of equipment for 149 under-19s in Berkshire. Right now, the charity is currently working with another family in the county with equipment needs of £5,400.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Berkshire, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/berkshire. The website includes contact details for the Newlife Supporter Relations Team – 01543 462777 or email local@newlifecharity.co.uk – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the county.

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Berkshire will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Pictured: Habibah

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