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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 Whiteley Shopping Centre in Fareham, Southampton – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to national charity 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 ten-year-old Finley Cross is one of the children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative as an FM System means he can now filter out background noise, enabling him to concentrate on what he needs to hear. This has already had a huge impact on his ability to learn.

Finley, from Bursledon in Southampton, has Auditory Processing Disorder which affects him at both at home and school on a daily basis, making it hard for him to separate different noises and causes him to become overwhelmed, anxious and impulsive – which can impact on his safety and his behaviour as it causes meltdowns.

An FM System is a two part system, with Finley wearing the receiver and his teacher, mum or someone else wearing the transmitter, allowing Finley to clearly hear what is being said, without having to filter out any other noise. With no funding available through statutory services, Finley’s parents contacted Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help.

Mum Emma Cross said: “Finley has a wide range of learning difficulties, has Sensory Processing Disorder and was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder by Great Ormond Street Hospital, which suggested the family contact Newlife for help to provide an FM system for Finley.”

With funding from River Island, Newlife has provided the £1,352 listening aids which Emma says have been ‘literally amazing’.

Emma added: “The system has had a massive impact on Finley’s ability to learn. Now he can listen and understand and it’s showing in his work. In class he can keep his concentration now because it cuts out the surrounding sounds. I’ve been told by his school that his concentration is outstanding. He uses it every day at school and at home on occasions. It helps to calm him down because it lowers the tone of the surrounding sound. His communication is better and he is not stuttering as much.

“Life is so much better with the FM system – Finley asks for them if he needs them and they are helping at school as well as socially because he can take part in more conversations and he’s not having so many meltdowns. He has also been playing hockey as he can process the instructions now. It’s just had such an impact!”

Newlife Charity 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 425 children in Hampshire, at a cost of £639,298. If you think you could help a local child, go to for further details; we are currently working with a further 19families in the county with equipment needs totalling £59,747. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Pictured: Finley Cross