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BUGGY BOOST TO KEEP FOUR-YEAR-OLD SAFE

Specialist equipment will help prevent little Matthew running into the road, putting himself in danger

Four-year-old Matthew Guite will soon be getting out and about in safety thanks to the donation of a special-needs buggy from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, working in partnership with Marks and Spencer. Matthew, from Winchester in Hampshire, has poor muscle tone and sensory processing difficulties; this means that he often trips and falls and can become overwhelmed by the world around him.

He needs a buggy with a five-point harness to keep him safe – but there is nothing large enough available on the mainstream market. Mum Melanie had a special-needs buggy on loan from Matthew’s nursery, but this is now needed for another child.

Melanie Guite said: “Matthew has no awareness of danger so he will run off if something interests him, regardless of his environment. He is very good at working things out, so a regular safety harness would not keep him secure – however the specialist buggy has a five-point harness that he wouldn’t be able to undo.”

She added: “Often when we are out – even somewhere as everyday as the supermarket – Matthew can have a meltdown, so having a buggy where he can feel enclosed and distanced from what is going on around him will help him calm down and cope with everyday life.”

With no funding available from local statutory services and the buggy costing £815, Matthew’s parents turned to Newlife charity for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing the equipment.

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 £656,795 of equipment for 443 under-19s in Hampshire. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 23 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £64,809.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Hampshire go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hampshire. 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 county.

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

Pictured: Matthew Guite

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