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CAN YOU HELP BONNIE SIT IN SAFETY AND COMFORT?

A mum who reached breaking point when her toddler’s behaviour spiralled dangerously out of control during lockdown has been given emergency specialist equipment to keep him safe.

Beverley Cox turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children after the pressure of lockdown got too much for her two-year-old son Samuel Cutler who has suspected autism, doesn’t speak and has limited awareness of danger.

Newlife provides specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children across the UK, many of whom are most at risk from the effects of Covid-19. However, without urgent funding its services risk grinding to a halt.

Beverley Cox was told about the charity’s Emergency Equipment Loan service when she self-referred to her local council’s children’s services in desperation to keep him safe.

Due to his condition, Samuel’s frustrations and anxiety cause him to headbutt hard surfaces including the floor.  He loves to be outside and at night he has climbed onto his windowsill to try to and escape through his bedroom window. Strong and big for his age, he pulled the radiator from his bedroom wall twice, despite re-enforced brackets, leaving him at risk of being burnt by scalding water from separating pipes.

Samuel also pushed his bed to the child gate on his door to clamber over the top, leaving Beverley too worried to sleep. Complete exhaustion then began to affect her already fragile mental health.

Beverley said: “When Samuel’s nursery shut down because of the pandemic he lost the strict routine he needs – as well as the one-to-one support he receives there. After a few days Samuel started to develop some really dangerous behaviours, which only got worse, especially in the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep.

“Samuel’s dad, Jason, often works away, so I’m with Samuel and his one-year-old sister, Elsie, on my own. Keeping Samuel safe was getting harder and harder and I needed to watch him 24-hours a day. At night I was listening out for him constantly as he could have been hurt so easily.

“My biggest fear was that Samuel would get into the rest of the house, climb and fall, which would have meant serious injury. He could also have potentially escaped the house too, despite all the precautions I take, as he’s very determined.”

The emergency loan of a Safespace voyager from Newlife, which has strong, high sides so Samuel is safe at night when he’s awake, has given Beverley the peace of mind she needs to relax and sleep. Beverley added: “Knowing Samuel is safe means I can sleep, which makes a big difference to absolutely everything.  I have the energy I need to cope with everything else during the day.”

Newlife, which is in its 30th year, is currently operating in a much reduced capacity and has temporarily closed all its stores in line with national government advice. It has launched a £72,000 national fundraising drive to ensure its nurse helpline and emergency equipment services can cope with demand over coming weeks.

The charity’s Consultant Nurse Karen Dobson said: “Many of the disabled children who need our help are at most risk of the effects of COVID-19. Whether it’s because they have an underlying health condition or because they cannot access already stretched essential health and social care services, it’s vital that they get the equipment and support they need to keep them safe – they need our help now more than ever.”

Among its services, Newlife provides the UK’s only emergency equipment response service, aiming to get equipment to children who need it the most anywhere in the UK within 72 hours. It has issued twice as many emergency loans of specialist equipment to families with disabled and terminally ill children in the first seven weeks since lockdown began and is now critically short of loan equipment and without the funds to purchase extra stock.

Newlife also provides grants of equipment including specialist beds, seats, buggies and car seats to children, often when they are facing delays or difficulties accessing the equipment they need through statutory services.

The charity is appealing to its loyal supporters to find other ways of pledging support during this unprecedented time – perhaps by donating money they would usually spend on their commute or frozen gym memberships while having to work from home. To donate click here.

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