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Taking a family holiday is the highlight of the year for many – but for Helen and David Hogan from Birmingham it hasn’t been possible, as their middle child, Henry, has severe autism and needs a specialist travel bed to stay safe through the night.

Because five-year-old Henry has Autism he finds life quite overwhelming. He doesn’t speak, walks on his tip toes and has no awareness of danger, so he uses a wheelchair for his safety whenever he goes outside. Sleep is something Henry also finds difficult – despite medication – and he will often be awake for long periods through the night.

Thankfully at home Henry has a SafeSpace, which is essentially a room within a room, which has made a huge difference to both Henry and family life; allowing his parents to have a restful night’s sleep as they know he can’t come to any harm.

However, without a way to ensure Henry’s safety overnight away from home, it means his parents couldn’t contemplate going on holiday or even a short break with him and their other children – seven-year-old George and one-year-old Elsie – so they approached Newlife – the UK’s largest charity funder of children’s specialist disability equipment, to fund a £2,899 SafeSpace Voyager, which is a portable version of the sleep system Henry has at home.

Henry’s mum Helen said: “The SafeSpace is his calm place; he goes there when everything is just too much for him. He’s also sleeping better as it so enclosed, so he’s a lot less lethargic in the day now. If we go away though, it all goes to pot. He can’t settle in a normal bed as he needs an enclosed space – a SafeSpace.”

The family did try to go away to Blackpool for one night, but Helen says it was ‘horrendous’ as they ended up being awake all night with Henry.

She added: “We would love a holiday anywhere, just something simple, so we could do the kind of things as a family that others take for granted – for our other children as well as Henry. It means Henry could go for overnight respite too, which just isn’t an option unless we know he will be safe.”

Right now, there are another 81 children with disabilities or a terminal illness in the West Midlands who need your help to get the specialist equipment that will really change their lives. Further information about the Newlife West Midlands Fund – and how to specifically donate or fundraise to support Henry – can be found by going to or by emailing Telephone donations can be made by calling 01543 462 777.

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has already helped 961 children in the West Midlands through equipment grants and loans totalling nearly £1,144,303 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.

The Newlife West Midlands Fund supports equipment provision for under-19s facing any significant disability, whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness.

We hope that by launching the Newlife West Midlands 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 the West Midlands through a range of free services:

Nurse-staffed helpline

Equipment grants

Emergency equipment loans

Sensory and developmental toy ‘pod’ loans.

Pictured: Henry Hogan