‘Walking With Angels’ is the title of an inspirational and hugely popular blog by Walsall mum Sara Meredith, who experienced the early death of her disabled daughter and now fosters children with severe special needs.
Sara and husband Alan lost daughter Olivia in 2008 to Rett Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes severe mental and physical disability. As Sara says in her blog “Our hearts are forever broken.” However, the amazing couple – who have three other girls – decided they wanted to extend their happy home life to help disabled children in the foster system.
Sara’s blog is read by around 5,500 followers, sharing her thoughts and offering comfort to many families who have faced – or are still facing – similar situations.
Now the busy mum has turned her attention to helping national children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation, which is based in nearby Cannock, Staffordshire. Sara is no stranger to Newlife, as Olivia was one of the first children provided with specialist equipment by the charity soon after it launched its Equipment Grants service back in 2005.
Sara was recently invited behind the scenes at the charity’s headquarters in Hemlock Way, Cannock, to find out how Newlife has developed and grown in the intervening years, and has now funded more than 7,000 Equipment Grants totalling in excess of £10million.
Sara says in her blog: “On my visit I found out that Olivia’s bed grant was number 147. I cannot describe in words the impact that having a bed that protected my little girl when she slept when she seizured made to us as a family. To be able to sleep without fear was such a gift to us. To able to sleep without hurting herself made such a difference to Olivia.”
As a result of her visit to Newlife, the indomitable Walsall mum is now helping to raise awareness of the charity nationwide, through her network of BritMums followers.
She said: “I attended my visit to Newlife believing I knew most of what they did as a charity – but honestly I hadn’t a clue. The work and the people they support is simply marvellous.”
As a foster mum, she was particularly interested to hear about Newlife’s equipment intervention programme for families with ‘looked after’ children, which has a 100 per cent success rate.
Key legislation to support children in foster care, that has gone widely unused for 25 years, is now being highlighted and utilised by Newlife to
raise awareness of local authorities’ statutory obligation to provide specialist equipment for disabled children in their care, as laid out in the 1989 Children’s Act.
Since November 2012, Newlife has achieved a 100 per cent success rate in challenging local authorities to provide the specialist equipment that foster families have applied to the charity to fund. So far, this involves six items of equipment – at a cost of almost £10,000.
To read Sara’s blog in full, go to https://www.walkingwithangels.co.uk/?p=4475
Pictured: Sara Meredith