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CHARITY PLEA TO HELP DISABLED LANCASHIRE SIX-YEAR-OLD STAY SAFE AT HOME DURING PANDEMIC

six-year-old girl who is among those most at risk of the effects of the pandemic urgently needs a specialist seat to be safe and comfortable at home – and to make it easier to have hugs with her mum.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children has appealed to the local community to help fund the £1,785 seat for Poppy Kettleborough, from Great Harwood, and to help other families who are currently in desperate need of specialist equipment and support for disabled children.

Unable to walk, talk or sit up, Poppy has Cerebral Palsy and can only support her own head for a few moments at a time. She also has breathing difficulties and refluxso she and her mum are unable to leave their Lancashire home until the pandemic is over, which means Poppy has nowhere safe and comfortable to sit for the foreseeable future.

She has completely grown out of the comfortable chair she was previously using which kept her in just the right position to help her breathing and supports her head. She urgently needs a seat that is moulded to her shape to fully support her posture.

Poppy’s mum Stacey said: “She has completely grown out of the specialist seat called a P Pod she was using. We called it her Happy Chair and it kept her safe and comfortable, but now it’s too small to use.

“This is the only type of seat which supports Poppy while helping her to relax and be comfortable as well as safe. I’m also on my own with Poppy, and people aren’t allowed to visit due to the risk of her catching Covid-19, so there’s no break, even for a second. It’s difficult when it’s just you, 24/7, people don’t realise how much care a disabled child needs.

“The only other seat we have for her is one from statutory services which is an upright, rigid seat for her to be fed in, but she can’t tolerate being in it for long, especially as she her arms and legs will extend out and she arches her back in frustration.

“If we were to be able to have the new chair Poppy would be safe and comfortable. It’s amazing, it even lets us safely have a cuddle as it’s the same height as the sofa. It would also mean I could leave Poppy for a few minutes, just to go to the bathroom without panicking. It would make such a difference to our lives and would be one less thing to worry about.”

Newlife has seen an increase in calls to its nurse-run helpline from worried families seeking help over recent weeks as they struggle to get the support and equipment they need, often because of the huge strain being put on statutory services.

In the North West alone, Newlife currently has 40 children on its waiting list needing equipment totalling £56,745.

The charity, which is in its 30th year, is continuing to deliver specialist equipment to families with disabled and terminally ill children around the UK, all while operating in a much reduced capacity in line with national government advice. It has now launched a £72,000 national fundraising drive to ensure its nurse helpline and emergency equipment services can cope with demand over coming weeks.

Newlife is appealing to its loyal supporters to find other ways of pledging support during this unprecedented time – perhaps by donating the money they would usually spend on their commute, lunch or frozen gym memberships while having to work from home. For ways to help, visit https://newlife.support/COVID-19ResponseAppeal

Newlife’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.

“All of our free services are still running and delivering. Our dedicated team of nurses is continuing to run our helpline to provide important support to families. We are also still operating our emergency equipment loan service which provides equipment to keep children safe, free then from pain and allows them to leave hospital and go home. A lot of hospitals are currently trying to discharge children because they will be safer at home, but you can’t discharge a child without the equipment they will need. Newlife exists because, if it was your child you would want the best for them. Our appeal means everyone is being given the chance to change a vulnerable child’s life for the better.”

Among its services, Newlife provides the UK’s only emergency equipment response service, getting equipment to children who need it the most anywhere in the UK within 72 hours. It 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.

For more information on the various ways you can help fund Poppy’s chair and support other disabled children through Newlife’s campaign, please visit https://newlife.support/COVID-19ResponseAppeal

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