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Before receiving a special piece of equipment to keep him safe while travelling, 11-year-old Leyton Copeland was able to free himself from his seatbelt in the car, making journeys very unsafe. But that’s now changed thanks to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children providing him with a special harness which allows him to travel in safety.

Leyton, from Stanley in County Durham, has Autism, significant communication difficulties and hypermobility. He can walk for short distances, but he tires after a while. Mum Helen Connor does not drive however Leyton has a carer who takes him out several times a week. There have been incidents where Leyton has unclipped himself from his seatbelt, taking his frustrations out on those around him in the car – making special safety harness essential.

Leyton is also non-verbal and has no awareness of danger, so explaining possible dangers to him isn’t that simple.

Helen said: “Leyton doesn’t like to be confined to one space so car journeys were always difficult because he will regularly have meltdowns and lash out. This made car journeys very dangerous as you just didn’t know what was going to happen; his carer would have to be extra vigilant. When Leyton did unclip his seatbelt he would be all over the place, it just wasn’t safe.”

With no statutory funding available to fund Leyton’s car harness costing £162, Helen turned to Newlife – the UK’s leading charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

With the travel harness Leyton, is now safe. Helen’s mind is at ease as he will no longer be putting himself or others at risk.

Helen added: “The car harness has been amazing. We didn’t know how he was going to react when we put him in it for the first time as he doesn’t like to be restricted but he absolutely loves it! Leyton can now travel safely so I do not have to worry anymore.”

Newlife has supported 77 families in County Durham, with equipment totalling £90,951. For more details about how Newlife supports families in the area, go to

If you think you can help, go to the website and donate. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in locally will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Pictured: Leyton Copeland