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A safe sleeping environment will help keep five-year-old John Dickson free from risk of harm – and a leading charity is calling on ‘local heroes’ to help make this happen.

Newlife charity CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “I know this is a busy time for families as they are preparing for their own festive celebrations, but I hope people can spare a minute to consider this Christmas how they could help improve a disabled child’s life.”

John lives with his family in Kelloholm, Sanquhar. He has Autistic Spectrum Disorder and developmental delay. A poor sleeper, John needs to be constantly supervised because he has no awareness of danger.

His dad John Dickson said: “Johnny is temporarily back in a cot because he is a danger to himself. We got him a single divan bed but he was not sleeping much, and when he did he slept in the drawer. He likes to be enclosed and the bed gave him too much space for him to feel safe.

“He would be up until 3am, jumping on the bed and having constant meltdowns, head butting things, climbing and pulling things over. “We were worried about what we could do next, but then Johnny’s occupational therapist told us about the SafeSpace.”

SafeSpaces are custom-made ‘rooms within rooms’. They are designed for children and adults who may be unsafe in an ordinary room or bed and are particularly supportive for those with complex needs, including autism. However, with the equipment costing £6,948 and no funding available through local statutory services, the family contacted Newlife for help.

Newlife is the UK’s leading charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has already funded £23,069 of support for 14 children in Dumfries and Galloway.

If you think you could help John, go to and click on the Donate button next to his story. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Dumfries and Galloway will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the area. Any money raised beyond what is needed to help John will be used to support other children in the county.