If Louise Bruce wants to take her 16-year-old son Jack anywhere outside their Knaphill home in Woking – whether it is so he can get some fresh air in the garden, they are popping out for milk or enjoying a family day out – it means she has to push him in his manual wheelchair. However, as it so heavy and difficult to manoeuvre, she isn’t able to manage this on her own, especially as the terrain is so hilly.
Jack, who has learning difficulties, is unable to push his wheelchair himself as he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a life limiting progressive muscle wasting disease which has left him very weak. He also has brittle bones as a result of long-term steroid medication. A power pack for Jack’s current wheelchair would make all the difference, allowing mum Louise to easily push him wherever they need to go, without exhausting herself or needing another adult with her.
Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – is calling on local heroes to help Jack receive a £1,095 power pack for his wheelchair.
If you think you could help Jack, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/surrey and click on the Donate button next to his story. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email [email protected]
Although Jack has two carers which give Louise respite from her caring role for a few hours each day, they currently aren’t able to push his wheelchair as it’s so heavy, leaving mum as Jack’s only option if he is to go outside, even if it is just for a few minutes with his 11-year-old sister Jessica.
Louise said: “The power pack would means Jack’s carers could take him out too, which would help me. It would be great for him to go out more, especially in the summer.
“We live in a very hilly area and I’m not getting any younger, but we can’t just stay indoors, we do go out and about – but it’s hard.
“The hills are difficult to push him up and so are kerbs. Even just getting him from the house to the car in the wheelchair is hard. Having a power pack for the wheelchair would make life so much easier.”
The website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/surrey 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.
Any funds raised above what is needed for Jack will help pay for equipment for another child in Surrey, where Newlife has already supported 379 children with equipment totalling £398,924.
Newlife is currently receiving more Equipment Grant applications for help than at any time in its 25-year history. Which is why public support is needed to support families caring for disabled and terminally ill children in Surrey.
The charity operates its own successful recycling and retail business, working with leading manufacturers and high street retailers, to fund core equipment provision services – but statutory service budget cuts have left families increasingly reliant on charitable support.
With no-where else to turn, over the past five years there has been a 64 per cent increase in applications to Newlife – and we have responded with a 45 per cent jump in spending.
Newlife’s Consultant Nurse Karen Dobson said: “To meet current applications for vital specialist equipment, Newlife needs more than £8,000 a day – every day. With continued budget cuts in the statutory sector and an increasing number of children with disabilities, we are aware that without public support Newlife will not be able to assist all those families who look to us for essential help. While medical expertise continues to save children’s lives, we require help to support families’ daily equipment needs. Families like yours and mine.”
Pictured: Jack Bruce