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Two-year-old Imogen Norton, from Derbyshire, has a rare chromosomal condition which means she has complex health issues including limited mobility and a history of epilepsy. She is unable to speak and conveys her feelings by smiling, crying and through facial expressions.

Mum Julie Norton said: “The main concern for us at the moment is Imogen’s lack of understanding about her own safety and surroundings. She doesn’t appreciate that if she climbs she can hurt herself and so has to have constant one-to-one supervision.”

The Norton family needs a specialist cotbed for Imogen, which will ensure her safety at night so if she wakes up while her parents and six-year-old sister are asleep she can’t put herself at risk of injury.

Julie said: “Imogen is tall for her age and when she pulls herself up using the side rails of her existing cot she can easily get her leg over the side. She has no concept of day and night and often wakes up in the early hours and wants to get out of her bed. Imogen often wakes in the very early hours and doesn’t go to bed again until very late the following evening.  A specialist cotbed would be a safe environment for her and help us to get Imogen into a sleep routine so the rest of the family can get some rest as well.”

There is no statutory funding available for the provision of this equipment and the cotbed that best suits Imogen’s needs costs £5,043 so Julie and her husband turned to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help.

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown said: “Equipment ‘enables’. It can mean the difference between comfort and pain, engagement or isolation, freedom or a worsening condition. Therefore, our equipment grants are vital to so many children, offering practical support to families. Equipment can range from beds – like this one for Imogen – and wheelchairs to specialist seating and communication aids. Equipment costing from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”

The specialist cot bed would also allow her parents to adjust the mattress level to assist with changing and dressing Imogen. Julie said: “The constant bending over and lifting has left us both with back problems; a new bed would not only benefit Imogen but our health as well.”

Newlife has awarded £116,163 in equipment grants to 86 children across Derbyshire. But the charity is experiencing hugely increased demands on its resources; calls to the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 – have shot up by 70 per cent. This is an average of 300 calls a week, with thousands more hits on the charity’s website

“Because of the huge demand,” said Sheila, “we are calling on ‘local heroes’ to help us raise money to fund equipment in Derbyshire. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to support disabled children in the county.”

If you think you can help, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.

Any money raised in excess of Imogen’s needs will be used to help other disabled and terminally ill children in Derbyshire.

Pictured: Imogen Norton.

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