Newlife was founded 30 years ago to ensure that disabled and terminally ill children get the best possible start in life and have the opportunity to fulfil theory potential.
Why Newlife Exists
Alongside dealing with their disability, the sad fact is that thousands of children don’t have the specialist equipment they really need to help them. As a result, children are missing out on life’s opportunities.
There are now 1.7 million disabled and terminally ill children in the UK. Thousands of them rely on Newlife to get the equipment they need, equipment that has often been refused by the statutory services or delays in provision mean that the child is at risk.
Newlife offers a lifeline for families, providing life-changing and life-saving equipment when and where its needed. Alongside equipment, we campaign to improve the outlook for disabled children and change lives. We support parents, work with health professionals and strive for a future where all disabled children get the equipment they need and deserve.
That every disabled or terminally ill child and their family, get: The equipment they depend on; the quality of life they deserve; the caring support they need and the chance to fulfil their potential.
Together we will make life better for disabled or terminally ill children and their families.
Always compassionate and deserving of trust – in all we do.
Making things happen – for those we service.
Leading in our field – to make things better.
People at heart – every day.
Did you know?…
Approximately 70% of parents/carers have children living without required equipment
It costs around 3x more to raise a child with a disability than a child who is non-disabled
Over 90% of families we’ve helped said they wouldn’t have received their equipment without Newlife
Download our latest Highlights Report to find out how we are helping thousands of disabled children and their families.
Birth Defects Foundation Formed
The Birth Defects Foundation was registered as a Charity, launching on March 13th in London. At that time our primary focus was supporting research related to the understanding, prevention and treatment of birth defects, as these were the UK’s biggest threat to child health.
Trading Company Set Up
The charity supported the setting up of a separate Trading company. This was to recycle and raise funds from the management of corporate products donated to the charity and processed by the registered recycling company – Birth Defects Trading Ltd.
So Much More Than Research
By this time our focus was much wider and we were not only funding Birth Defect Research, we had our national Nurse Helpline, our Equipment Grants Services and much more.
We set aside the term BDF in our name to make it simpler for people to understand who we are and what we do. We became Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. However, our research continues to focus on Birth Defects.
Newlife The Charity For Disabled Children
In December 2016, our Trading Company and Charity placed all their assets into the new registered charity called ‘Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children’, combining our focus and reducing the costs of running two separate organisations. Now all of our staff have one single focus, a single vision, mission and values. Together, with our supporters and volunteers, we aim to change children’s lives.
Why? Because if it was your child, you would want them to have the very best chance in life. Where funds allow, we want that too for the disabled and terminally ill children of today and by investing in research for the children of tomorrow.
Latest Newlife Charity News
A Derbyshire eight-year-old with a rare brain condition that means he can’t walk, talk, sit up or even hold up his own head, urgently needs a specialist seat (more…) ...read more
Giving Tuesday on November 28 is a reminder to everyone of just how important giving to charity is – enabling some of the most vulnerable in our society to receive the help (more…) ...read more
In a perfect world being kind seems like the sort of thing you wouldn’t have to remind people to be. But unfortunately in busy day to day life, when we have other things on (more…) ...read more
Clive Lewis – Chairman
Chairman, River Island Clothing Company Ltd and Joint Managing Director, Lewis Trust Group
Clive qualified as a Barrister in 1979 and spent his entire career with Lewis Trust Group Ltd, parent company of River Island, mainly in real estate, finance and investments until 1994 when he joined River Island. He became CEO from late 1990’s to 2007 and as of January 2008, he became Deputy Chairman at River Island Clothing Co. and Joint Managing Director at Lewis Trust Group Ltd, responsible for retail, non-US real estate, private equity and Fund Investments.
Vanessa is an adult & children’s nurse, having specialised in children’s neurosciences. She has nearly 30 years’ experience within a number of large teaching hospitals working with children with special needs, as well as supporting families in the community providing respite. Vanessa is currently a Director of Nursing at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Having obtained a degree from Edinburgh University, Chris went on to join Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSHCC), where he was Deputy Director for Major Gift Fundraising. This means he is very much aware of the vital contribution and need Newlife continues to address to support disabled children and families across the UK. Having moved from GOSHCC to set up a new major giving team at the University of Cambridge, Chris is currently CEO of CW+, the charity partner of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Nigel has been a charity CEO for over 15 years focusing predominantly in disability, driven by his passion and commitment within the field derived from the experience of having a severely disabled son.
Prior to working in the charity sector, Nigel worked within IT Services for over 25 years delivering many large and complex IT systems and services predominantly in the Public Sector.
Nigel is an experienced leader with a proven track record of leading and managing complex services and delivering change and innovation.
Nigel has been a trustee of Newlife for nearly 6 years and has now taken on the additional responsibility of Interim CEO for the charity as the search for a new CEO continues.
Bernard Lewis OBE
Chairman of River Island Clothing Company Limited Director – Lewis Trust Group LTG Lifelong experience in Retail and Management.
Leonard is Joint founder of Birth Defects Foundation (now Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children) and originator of the brand River Island and MD of River Island to June 1994. He had a traumatic brain injury and became a non-executive strategic director. He is now Board Director of Lewis Family Holdings and a Trustee at James Lewis Foundation.
Professor Michael A Patton
Trustee and Medical Director
Consultant Clinical Geneticist and Professor of Medical Genetics at St Georges. Following a university education at Cambridge and Edinburgh he was appointed at St Georges in 1986 to set up a Regional Genetic Service with clinical and laboratory services for a population of 3 million in SW London, Surrey and West Sussex. He has also run the academic department and has a research interest in birth defects and gene identification in genetic isolates.
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Newlife has appointed Mr D’Arcy Myers as Interim CEO. Coming from a commercial marketing background, D’Arcy has been working in the charity sector for 30 years. He brings with him a wealth of experience in the charity sector, both as an interim and full time CEO. D’Arcy is an active trustee. He was one of the founding trustees for The Small Charities Coalition, has been Chairperson for The Parity Trust and The Charterhouse Group of Therapeutic Communities. He currently chairs both The Smallwood Trust and The Association of Charitable Organisations. D’Arcy has also spent eight years as a secondary school governor. Dedicated to impact with integrity and compassion, he is now helping the charity’s Board of Trustees prepare Newlife for its next steps and the appointment of a new CEO.
Patricia Alford Burnett
Patricia has been actively involved with Newlife since the Charity was launched in 1991 and became a Trustee in 2017. She brings her considerable commercial, retail and marketing skills to her role supporting this charity. A common thread throughout her career has been using great people skills to build strong and capable teams. She has a lot of experience at a very personal level of caring for people with disabilities and dealing with the many practical challenges they continually face. Her drive to improve the lives of anyone at a disadvantage always adds value. Her determination, warmth and proactive demeanor means that in any environment she makes a difference.
Patricia’s retail career has included Chelsea Girl, River island, Sears, CEO Jaeger, CEO of Copenhagen’s department store ILLUM and The White Company. She is currently a Non-Executive Director for the Lifeline IT company, as well as a successful business coach and valued mentor
Kathryn worked for 10 years in parliamentary and governmental affairs, gathering broad experience in practice across Whitehall and Westminster including policy development, legislative procedure, campaigning and Private Office. A career break to focus on her young family followed. It was during this break that she first entered the world of additional needs when her second child was diagnosed with ASD. Having seen at first hand the immense impact of managing those needs for her child, and indeed the whole family, she was delighted to join the Newlife board in January 2020 where she is keen to lend her personal and professional skills to supporting the charity’s mission.
Fiona Robinson joins Newlife from her role as Trading Director at Dobbies Garden Centres. With a retail career spanning more than 30 years, both in the UK and abroad, and including major high street names such as Mothercare and Debenhams, Fiona has consistently played a key role in driving the growth and strategic development of businesses.
Fiona’s retail experience has seen her successfully navigate fast-changing and complex business environments, driving impressive sales and managing the sourcing, buying, and merchandising of thousands of products, as well as running supply chain, logistics, e-commerce, and marketing.
A motivated leader, Fiona takes pride in empowering the teams she works with and leveraging their strengths to improve.