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A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY OPENS UP FOR TEENAGER BETH

New opportunities are opening up for Formby teenager Beth Stevenson, thanks to provision of a portable hoist through a charity’s innovative equipment service.

Beth, aged 16, from Formby, has Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that almost exclusively affects girls and results in physical and mental disability. Combined with scoliosis, this has meant Beth has had to undergo hip reconstruction surgery and have steel rods inserted in her spine. She is now reliant on a wheelchair – and the use of a hoist to get her in and out of it.

Mum Valerie McGurk said: “We have gone to great expense to have the ground floor of our house adapted for Beth, with ceiling track hoisting in part of it. Unfortunately this doesn’t extend throughout so, for instance, she misses out on hugs with grandma on the settee and has to stay in her wheelchair when she is in the garden. It also means Beth hasn’t been able to visit her auntie in London since 2012 when she had major surgery.

“So I researched portable hoists, but was horrified by the prices. That’s when I thought about Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, which helped us a few years ago with specialist seating for Beth.

“When Newlife said they could help us again I was elated. The news came the same week we had had two applications for social care and health funding refused. I thought ‘thank goodness someone, somewhere really does care.”

The hoist will increase opportunities for days out, when access to a toilet is essential, as well as overnight stays with family – and holidays. Valerie added: “This has opened up a whole world of activities for Beth – it will transform her life.”

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has supported 614 children across Merseyside. It offers a range of services and is now championing a recycling initiative which takes equipment destined for landfill and refurbishes it to meet national standards.

Beds, wheelchairs, standing and walking frames, hoists, buggies, seating and bathroom aids – collected from statutory services and individuals – are available on a first come, first served basis through www.newlifeable.co.uk

Families who would be eligible for a Newlife Equipment Grant – like Beth’s – can apply for free support through Newlifeable, should the item they need be advertised on the website. However, each item can also be purchased at a substantially reduced price which covers the cost of refurbishment.

This not only enables Newlife to support more disabled children than ever before, it also helps statutory services by saving them storage costs for equipment they can’t allocate locally and at the same time enabling them to meet their legal responsibilities by creating a trusted UK-wide second-hand market.

Newlife Head of Operations Stephen Morgan said: “The number of disabled and terminally ill children in need around the UK is rising – government figures have put this at around one million – but the budgets set for provision through statutory services are declining at local levels. So new and innovative ways must be found to make provision. Newlifeable demonstrates the importance of getting this equipment back into circulation nationally.”

To date, Newlife has recovered over £1.2million of equipment which it has refurbished at a cost of around £210,000.

To find out about the full range of Newlife services, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk. If you would like to find out more about how Newlife supports families in your area, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/merseyside. The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email [email protected] – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the area. Right now, Newlife is working with a further 32 families in Merseyside, with equipment needs totalling £14,530.

Pictured: Beth Stevenson

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