A dozen disabled and terminally ill children in Northern Ireland are set to get the vital specialist equipment they need – thanks to the generosity of County Antrim clothing supplier N M Williams Ltd.
Company director Mark Bradley is an enthusiastic supporter of leading UK children’s charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children; N M Williams last year donated £12,000 and has this month (June 2012) contributed a further £13,000.
Mr Bradley had read about the needs of the 12 families currently working with Newlife Foundation to secure a range of disability equipment including sensory aids, sleep and seating systems, car seats and buggy accessories. He told Newlife: “I cannot imagine the hardship these children suffer, or the pressures that their disabilities place upon their parents.”
He added: “The staff and management at N M Williams are pleased to be able to support such a worthwhile charity and we hope to continue this association to benefit even more children in the future.”
Newlife Fundraising Manager Nora Smith added: “This is fantastic news for Newlife, but more importantly for the families of the children we are currently working with across Northern Ireland – in Counties Down, Antrim, Londonderry, Fermanagh and Armagh. I can’t thank Mark and N M Williams enough for their continued support.”
One of the children to benefit is two-year-old Harvey McClelland from County Down.
Harvey has quadriplegic cerebral palsy which means he is not able to sit unaided and cannot crawl or walk. He also has seizures and visual and hearing impairments.
Mum Lisa McClelland said: “Harvey was not due to get a wheelchair until he was three, but he has been given one early because his spine was beginning to curve as he was not properly supported by his old buggy. We have a lot of hospital and clinic appointments for Harvey – sometimes three a week – and we have been using a standard car seat to keep him safe while we are travelling. Unfortunately, with a standard car seat he sits in a slouched position on his spine, which aggravates the problem. He needs a specialist car seat, but statutory services do not provide these.”
The model which will ensure Harvey’s safety at the same time as positioning him to minimise the effect on his spine costs £2,542, which prompted Lisa to contact the charity for help. She added: “We cannot thank Newlife and N M Williams enough for taking the pressure off us as a family.”
Newlife has already funded £195,784 of specialist equipment for 170 children in Northern Ireland. In addition, the charity offers a free emergency loan service – Just Can’t Wait – which aims to provide equipment to life-limited children within 72 hours of applications being approved.
All Newlife services can be accessed through its Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 – which offers information and practical support on a wide range of children’s disability issues. Nurses are available five days a week to talk to families about any concerns they may have. There is also an instant messenger-style online Live Nurse Chat facility available 24 hours a day; or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
Newlife’s lead nurse Karen Dobson is concerned that many more disabled and terminally ill children across Northern Ireland are missing out on the opportunity to access the charity’s services, which are all free, because their families are unaware of the resources available to them. Karen and her nursing team are urging parents and carers to give them a call.
Karen said: “Northern Ireland health boards operate in a different way from the rest of the UK; because of this, many parents think they are not eligible to apply to us for help. This is not the case. We know there is a growing need in the region and we want to be doing more to help meet this need.”
Equipment currently provided by Newlife includes powered and manual wheelchairs, specialist beds and buggies, walking and standing frames, seating systems, portable hoists, safety equipment and communication aids.
Karen added: “We know that provision in the early stages of a child’s illness is very important and can often make a long-term difference. With this in mind we are urging families and professionals to contact us when a need arises rather than as a last resort.”
Newlife is able to guarantee that 100 per cent of any donation goes directly towards providing specialist equipment for children in need. This is possible because the charity operates its own trading company, which exists purely to support the aims of Newlife Foundation and covers all administration costs. If you think you can help support children in Northern Ireland, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.