The family of Winchester girl Zofia Bichler are encouraging local people to support a newly launched fund to provide specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in Hampshire.
Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has already helped 314 children in Hampshire through equipment grants and loans totalling nearly £510,000 so the charity knows there is a very real need for a specific county fund. In this way it aims to help more children, more quickly.
Right now, Zofia’s family is one of 17 in Hampshire currently working with Newlife Foundation to secure vital specialist equipment to help improve daily life. Further information about the Newlife Hampshire Fund – and how to specifically donate or fundraise to support Zofia – can be found by going to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hampshire or by emailing email@example.com. Telephone donations can be made by calling 01543 462 777.
Five-year-old Zofia from Winchester will have her first taste of independence when she swaps her heavy manual wheelchair for a lightweight version she can whiz about in on her own.
Hampshire couple Lukas and Malgorzata say their daughter, who has Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy, finds her manual wheelchair is too heavy to self propel and needs full time support when she is at her mainstream school – but a specialist lightweight wheelchair would mean she would no longer need to be pushed, giving her some much needed freedom.
Zofia’s Cerebral Palsy affects her whole body and is a result of being born prematurely at just 26 weeks gestation. She has weakness in her body and her arms and has undergone surgery in the USA to reduce the stiffness in her legs – but she can only walk a short distance with a walker before she is too exhausted to continue.
Dad Lukas said: “Zofia goes to a mainstream school and she loves it. She is a very bright girl and she is doing fine, but a lightweight wheelchair would let her be more independent.”
Although the family approached their local statutory services for the equipment, they were unable to provide the wheelchair which costs £3,292; but they will contribute a voucher for £300. Unable to fund the rest, the family turned to Newlife Foundation for help – the UK’s largest charity funder of children’s specialist disability equipment.
Zofia’s manual wheelchair doesn’t support her posture properly, stops her spending time with her friends and also means she can’t access all the areas of her home and school because of its size and weight.
Dad Lukas said: “The new wheelchair will let Zofia take part in more activities and socialise more with other children. It will make a big difference to us as a family. Zofia depends on us for everything but she really wants to be more independent so the wheelchair will make her much happier – and if she is happier then so are we.”
The Newlife Hampshire Fund supports equipment provision for under-19s facing any significant disability, whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness.
Vitally, the Newlife Hampshire Fund website – www.newlifecharity.co.uk/hampshire – will enable local people to find out who needs help in their county right now and highlight the support the charity gives vulnerable families. It includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families.
That might involve taking part in a local sporting challenge, give you information on how to organise a fundraising event – or even ask you to donate £5 today! Volunteers are also needed to help raise awareness of what we do and how we do it.
We hope that by launching the Newlife Hampshire Fund, children with disabilities or terminal illness in the county won’t have to go without the equipment they need for everyday life.
Newlife Foundation supports families in Hampshire through a range of free services:
Emergency equipment loans
Sensory and developmental toy ‘pod’ loans.
Pictured: Zofia Bichler