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When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a store have you ever wondered what happens to the money? Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the one at the Westwood Cross Shopping Centre in Broadstairs – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

River Island is doing something fantastic with the plastic profits – funding a range of specialist disability equipment. Local five-year-old Harry Jenner, who is severely autistic, is one of the children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative. Provision of a specialist buggy is helping him get out and about in safety.

Harry’s mum Katrina Llewellyn, from Staple in Kent, said: “For Harry, the anxiety of being out – especially in supermarkets and shopping centres – means he struggles to cope with the world around him. We were using a standard pushchair, but he is quite big for his age and whenever he had a ‘meltdown’ it would buckle. It just wasn’t safe to use it anymore.”

Buggies for older children are not available on the mainstream market, says Katrina: “Whenever you add the words ‘special needs’ to a piece of equipment, the price goes up.”

The most appropriate buggy for Harry cost £629, and with no funding available from local statutory services the family turned to Newlife for help. With bag levy funding from River Island, Harry now has his specialist equipment. “It is a dream to use and very sturdy. It has a harness that Harry can’t undo himself, so not only is he safer but he is also more comfortable. He uses the buggy as his ‘safe space’ when we are out if everything gets a bit too much for him. We just couldn’t go out without it.”

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can have a significant effect on young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

If you would like to find out more about Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, go to

Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 305 children in Kent, at a cost of £366,308. However, we are currently working with a further 19 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £21,374. If you think you could help a local child, go to for further details. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Pictured: Harry Jenner in his new buggy.