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‘Big numbers’ are making an impact, it was revealed at the launch of the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children 21st anniversary report at a House of Lords reception (last week) hosted by Baron Newby, OBE.

The House of Lords’ Deputy Chief Whip introduced Newlife’s ‘Impact Report’ – which focuses on 21 years of care and action by the UK’s leading children’s disability charity – saying: “Newlife is a great example of social enterprise. Its successful recycling and retail operation – working in partnership with big businesses – provides essential funding to support its core charitable activities. The reality is that there will never be enough money in the social care system to fully support disabled and terminally ill children, which makes the work of charities like Newlife even more pertinent.”

Newlife Head of Operations and report author Stephen Morgan said: “This document has a dual purpose. It enables us to shout about our ‘big numbers’ – the £15million invested in medical research and the 50-plus genes identified as a result, aiding diagnosis and treatment and making a vital difference to child health globally. It details the £8.5million spent on equipment grants for 5,800 children in need all around the UK and how our recently launched Just Can’t Wait emergency equipment loan service has already helped more than 100 terminally ill children.

“However, the real value and purpose of Newlife’s work over the last 21 years has been the impact made to the lives of individuals – and our Impact Report features a collection of real stories of real children whose lives have been transformed through provision of vital equipment.”

The Impact Report includes the story of eight-year-old Jamie, who, five years ago, almost choked to death when he had a seizure while travelling. Jamie’s mum Diane applied to Newlife for a specialist car seat – costing £649 – to provide her son with appropriate support after he had slumped forward and caught his neck in the harness of his standard car seat, restricting his breathing and resulting in an emergency dash to hospital. Five years on, and Jamie – who has Global Developmental Delay, visual impairments and epilepsy – is still safe in his car seat.

The House of Lords event was supported by Paralympian Sinclair Thomas, who has become a Newlife ambassador. Sinclair is involved with Newlife’s ‘Right Equipment, Right Time’ campaign, which aims to encourage statutory services to make appropriate provision so disabled children are not ignored.

Newlife CEO and co-founder Sheila Brown, OBE, spoke of plans for the charity’s next 21 years and the need to ensure that every disabled child is able to fulfil their personal potential. Further investment in medical research and greater practical support for the growing number of disabled children in the UK are key to this.

Sheila said: “More children than ever are surviving cancers, accidents, infections, birth defects and prematurity. Unfortunately, the NHS has yet to catch up in making provision for these children, many of whom will live with short or long-term disability.

“No family is immune. Childhood disability can potentially affect every family in the UK. We would all want the best if it was our child or grandchild, so we need to start now to campaign for improvements. The opportunity to enable more children and young people exists – and we must grab that opportunity with both hands. Newlife will be leading the way to transform the lives of those affected today and in the future.”

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