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 in Newport Retail Park – all profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to locally-based national charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.
Newlife – which has its headquarters in Cannock – is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
Gracie Davis, aged six, from Newport, is one of the children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative. Unable to walk or sit independently, she now has somewhere really comfy and safe to sit at home without pain and discomfort after school when she is relaxing with parents Emma and Jamie and 13-year-old brother Rhys.
Gracie was born with a visual impairment, but at the age of two she developed fluid on the brain which caused Cerebral Palsy and saw her lose all the abilities she had proudly gained. Over time the brave youngster has learned to speak again and can now chatter away and hold full conversations, but she has also developed a curvature of the spine and is due to have surgery for her right hip which has become misaligned.
Mum Emma said: “Gracie used to have a P-Pod which we had bought her ourselves, but she outgrew it and just wasn’t comfortable in it anymore. Her Occupational Therapist told us about an alternative seat which we were able to trial and she was really comfortable in it and it really made a big difference to her posturally, so we applied to Newlife for help.”
With funding from River Island, Newlife provided Gracie with a specialist chair, at a cost more than £2,600, in which she can sit comfortably enough to indulge in her favourite pastime, reading, as well as catch up with the TV programmes she likes.
Emma said: “We use this seat for everything in the house now, Gracie calls it her ‘big girl seat’ and we would just be lost without it. It’s on wheels so it can be taken from room to room and it will grow with her, so it will be suitable for the next four or five years – which gives us peace of mind.
“Gracie’s favourite thing to do in her chair is read – anything at all – but she particularly loves Disney princesses. She also likes listening to music and being wheeled out into the garden in her chair so she can enjoy being outside, but it’s easy for her to be in the lounge with us or in the kitchen when I’m cooking too. As the chair is mobile it also means I don’t have to keep lifting her up to transfer her from one thing to another – the seat just glides through the house.”
Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can help transform young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.
“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 Foundation for Disabled Children and how to access its services, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline or go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk.
Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 31 children in the Newport alone, at a cost of £42,876. If you think you could help a child in the country, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/newport for further details.
Pictured: Gracie Davis