A new hi-tech wheelchair means teenager Lloyd Griffin will be able to go to college to continue his education, with support from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children working in partnership with Marks and Spencer.
Fifteen-year-old Lloyd, from Cheadle Hulme, has a degenerative condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy and he relies on a wheelchair for mobility. For the past 12 months he has been using an NHS wheelchair, but this is so uncomfortable that he frequently has to miss lessons at Cheadle Hulme High School and go home to lie down to ease the pain.
Lloyd said: “Having a new hi-tech chair will not only mean I will be comfortable sitting all day but that I will be able to socialise more and continue on with my education at college next year where I want to study a Btec in Sport to fulfil my ambition to become a football coach.”
Mum Sue Griffin says: “Lloyd’s wheelchairs have been privately funded in the past, but we 12 months ago we thought it was about time we went down the NHS route. Unfortunately they can only provide a standard wheelchair and Lloyd has quite specific seating needs. As a result he has been uncomfortable ever since – he has metal rods in his spine to help keep him straight and these cause him a lot of pain when he is in the wheelchair and I am constantly having to pad out the lateral supports so he stays upright.
“We have found that the wheelchair isn’t very stable either, so this, combined with the lack of comfort, means Lloyd has been very reluctant to go out with his friends.
“He has missed a lot of school because he can’t sit in the chair all day – he has to come home early and lie down to help relieve the aching. That’s never been a problem with previous wheelchairs.”
Lloyd needs a hi-tech wheelchair with adaptable integrated support, an electric footplate so he can stretch out his legs to relieve pain and a riser facility so he can talk to his friends and family on the same level. With the equipment costing £10,949 and no funding available through statutory services, the family turned for help to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now helping to provide the equipment. Please note, contributory funding has also been made available by two additional charitable trusts.
M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Staffordshire and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling £630,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK. Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”
Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife Foundation, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families. It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”
Newlife has helped provide £358,027 of equipment for 426 under-19s in Greater Manchester. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 22 families in the area with equipment needs totalling £32,948.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Greater Manchester go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/greatermanchester. The website 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 in the county.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Greater Manchester will be used to specifically help local children with disabilities and terminal illness.
Pictured: Lloyd Griffin