The Phipps family love getting out into the local Suffolk countryside, but it’s getting harder and harder to access the great outdoors as wheelchair-reliant son Jonathan gets bigger.
Jonathan, from Denham near Bury St Edmunds, is eight years old and has a neurological condition combined with epilepsy. He has little independent mobility so it is really important that he is properly positioned to help prevent his spine from curving, causing further pain.
Mum Carol Phipps said: “We are an outdoorsy family and Jonathan likes nothing more than getting out and about to local National Trust properties and off-road events like festivals and the Suffolk Show. For instance, our local National Trust estate – Ickworth Park – has a stumpery, but that is getting more and more difficult to manoeuvre around with Jonathan in his wheelchair – and doing things like this will only get harder as he gets older.”
Jonathan needs a specialist lightweight all-terrain buggy that his parents can push him about in – but there is no local statutory funding available for this £2,193 piece of equipment. So the family turned to the UK’s leading charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. Five years ago, Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children provided Jonathan with equipment that has helped him develop assisted walking skills.
Earlier this year, the charity launched its Newlife Suffolk Fund to support children in the county who have a disability or terminal illness acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness.
The Newlife Suffolk Fund website – www.newlifecharity.co.uk/suffolk -highlights the help the charity gives vulnerable families in the county. It includes contact details for the Newlife equipment provision for under-19s in the county facing any significant disability, whether County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email email@example.com – and shows specific ways you can help support local disabled children and their families.
If you would like to support Newlife in providing Jonathan with the specialist buggy he needs so he can make the most of the world around him, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/suffolk and click on the ‘Donate’ button that accompanies his story.
Carol said: “The buggy would be a third of the weight of Jonathan’s wheelchair – and offer him all the postural support he needs, especially during and following a seizure – so it would mean he could enjoy more trips out to a greater variety of places.”
Newlife Foundation has already funded 68 Equipment Grants for children in Suffolk, at a cost of more than £92,000, and is currently is looking to provide this much-needed support for Jonathan. However, he is not the only child waiting for equipment in the county.
With applications for help up 25 per cent on last year, Newlife is asking local people to help support local children. Newlife Head of Operations Stephen Morgan said: “With growing demands and limited budgets, statutory services around the UK are increasingly unable to fully support the number of children with disabilities and terminal illness. That’s why we are looking to bridge the ever-widening gap – with the public’s help.”
Pictured: Jonathan Phipps