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The rapid response of a charity means two disabled Rotherham girls can now sleep without being hurt.

Poppy Shepard, aged seven, and Lexi Withington, aged four, each received a specialist bed from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children who operate an Emergency Equipment Loan service – the only one of its kind in the UK for disabled or terminally ill children.

As a cash-strapped NHS battles budget cuts, Newlife has stepped in to provide urgent equipment loans to more than 1,000 children in the UK through emergency Loan service since it was introduced five years ago, including over 250 last year – a 16 per cent increase on the previous year.

Developed in response to equipment refusals and lengthening waiting list which left some children at risk, the charity aims to deliver equipment loans within 72 hours while a team of experienced nurses then work closely with the family and local health services to ensure a permanent solution.

Poppy survived a two hour long epileptic seizure but now can’t walk or talk. At night violent spasms cause her arms and legs to thrash for hours. Although she received a padded hospital bed it didn’t stop injuries from repeated strikes against the bed frame.

Poppy’s mum, Amy Churm, said: “Poppy’s occupational therapist agreed the bed from statutory services wasn’t safe for her, but when we re-applied for a more specialist bed we were told she didn’t meet their criteria as she can’t sit up. I couldn’t let her use that bed. Thankfully Newlife were there to help, I’m so grateful to them – I don’t know what we would have done otherwise!”

A change in medication for Lexi, who has Cerebral Palsy, meant that she could unexpectedly sit up by herself – putting her at risk of falling out of bed and injuring herself. Newlife’s Emergency loan bed is now keeping her safe while statutory services process the family’s application for a bed, which can take several months.

Carrick Brown, Newlife’s Senior Manager of the Care Services Department, said: “Disabled and terminally ill children suffer avoidable pain and worsening conditions when they can’t get the right equipment at the right time – no child should have to endure this. Through the Emergency Equipment Loan service we’re able to provide a child with the equipment they need when a situation has become critical or their health needs mean they just can’t wait any longer.”

Newlife needs £1million a year to keep its Emergency Equipment Loan service running and to meet the increasingly urgent needs of disabled children and their families. Please help us to help children like Poppy and Lexi by supporting our Emergency Response Appeal. You can make a donation here: