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 Crewe’s Market Shopping Centre – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to national charity Newlife Foundation 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 three-year-old Harrison Briers, who lives in Winsford, is one of the children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative.
With Bag Levy funding from River Island, Newlife has given Harrison a specialist car seat and buggy, at a combined cost of almost £1,800, to help him get out and about in safety.
Harrison has Autistic Spectrum Disorder; as a result, he has no awareness of danger and would run off without being aware of potential consequences and release himself from his car seat during journeys, putting both himself and other occupants at risk.
Mum Annmarie Briers said: “I’d got to the stage where I just didn’t want to go out because I was concerned about Harrison’s safety. It’s not always possible to have two adults with him, but myself and husband Paul were finding it very difficult to travel with Harrison alone because he would wriggle out of his old car seat.”
She added: “Shortly after we were told Harrison would be getting his new specialist buggy we took him, in his old standard pushchair, to the Trafford Centre in Manchester. We are hyper vigilant but I was paying for something and Paul was holding the buggy when he looked down and said ‘Where’s Harrison?’ It was a Bank Holiday and packed in the shopping centre and I felt my blood run cold. Security were alerted and fortunately he was found, three minutes later, on an escalator trying to climb over the side. Harrison is non-verbal so anyone could have walked off with him.
“I wouldn’t go out of the house after that until the new buggy arrived!”
A friend who also has a child with disabilities had told Annmarie about Newlife and the work the charity does in Cheshire. Annmarie gave the Newlife Nurse Helpline a call and she was talked through the charity’s equipment grant application process. Annmarie said: “The nurse was so understanding – and I was surprised at how straightforward it was. Finding out about Newlife was a godsend – I don’t know how we would cope without the equipment now.”
Both pieces of equipment have specialist safety features, and the car seat has a turntable base to make it easier to get Harrison in and out of the vehicle ‘on days when he doesn’t want to co-operate.’
Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown said: “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.”
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 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 389 children in Cheshire, at a cost of £519,175. However, the charity is currently working with a further 21 families in the county, with equipment needs of £22,419. If you think you could help a local child, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/cheshire for further details.