Nine-year-old Grace Riddell will soon be sleeping in safety thanks to the donation of a specialist bed from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children working in partnership with Marks and Spencer.
Grace, from Castle Vale in Birmingham, has a complex condition resulting from Smith Magenis Syndrome, a developmental disorder which affects the brain and body. Grace – who needs 24-hour care – has no awareness of danger, low muscle tone and spinal rods inserted in her back.
She needs the specialist bed – which is costing £3,306 – to keep her safe at night and help reduce pain. After waiting for months without success for an assessment of need from local statutory services, mum Emma Riddell ended up buying a second-hand adult profiling hospital-style bed.
Emma said: “Grace is fed through a tube in her stomach during the night but because she chokes and gags she can’t be left lying flat – we have to prop her up with pillows. We bought the second-hand bed so we could alter her position and keep her head elevated, but the profiling feature has broken twice. In addition, the sides on the bed aren’t high enough to prevent her from falling – she experiences erratic movements – so she has to be monitored. I haven’t slept in my own bed since February 2016.”
She added: “When Grace had the spinal rod surgery last March (2016), certain pieces of equipment were identified for her care. Since then we have only received a shower chair, which arrived in September.”
Desperate for help, Emma contacted Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has supported 1,443 children in the West Midlands.
A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing the bed for Grace.
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 Cannock 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 £1,423,564 of equipment for 1,463 under-19s in the West Midlands. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 73 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £64,408.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in the West Midlands go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westmidlands. 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 local children with disability and terminal illness and their families.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in the West Midlands will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the metropolitan area.
Pictured: Grace Riddell