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A specialist safe sleeping environment for four-year-old Garrat Garner is having a ‘life-changing’ effect on family life.

Garrat, from Rothley, has Autistic Spectrum Disorder and speech and language delays which result in challenging behaviours. He is a poor sleeper and night-times were a struggle for parents Amy and Alan Garner. Because Garrat would climb and throw furniture, they had to strip his bedroom back to a mattress on the floor – and even that had to be screwed down because he would throw that too.

Amy said: “We had to build a secure radiator cover to stop him pulling the radiator off the wall and put wooden slats across his window to prevent him from trying to climb.”

In desperation they contacted Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

With funding support from Central England Co-operative, Newlife has now installed a safe sleeping environment – called a SafeSpace – in Garrat’s bedroom. “It’s brilliant,” says Amy. “Garrat really loves his special space and knowing that he is safe at night is brilliant for us.”

She added: “The bed made an immediate difference. Garrat has been so much calmer since it arrived – he doesn’t run into walls or try to climb as much, and he’s even sleeping a bit better.

“He likes to go into his SafeSpace with his iPad – he’s really comfy there. He will grab my hand and pull me to the SafeSpace which is his way of telling me he wants to go in. And while Garrat is in his bed he doesn’t have to wear his safety helmet as he is safe in there. The equipment has been life-changing – not only for Garrat but for the rest of the family as well.”

Newlife has been Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity since 2012 and colleagues and customers have raised £1.2million which has in turn helped to fund specialist equipment – like wheelchairs and walking frames, portable hoists and communication aids – for 546 children in the retailer’s trading area.

Simon Sprigg, Manager at Central England Co-operative’s Loughborough Road store in Rothley, said: “Central England Co-operative takes fundraising to help local communities very seriously, and we are committed to making a positive impact in the local areas in which we trade. Working with Newlife has provided a great opportunity for us to help make life easier for youngsters like Garrat.”

Alan and Amy Garner were also keen to give something back to the charity that has helped them and in September organised a neighbourhood yard sale which raised £535 to help another child with disabilities in Leicestershire. Alan said: “We are not rich people but we don’t like taking something without giving something back.”

Newlife provides equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness through a range of services. Equipment Grants fund permanent provision (this is the service which is supporting the Garner family); Emergency Equipment Loans support children with unstable, life-threatening or life-limiting illness and those who face injury due to the absence of appropriate equipment; Play Therapy Pods offer loans of sensory toys which aid development; Comfort Capsules help families of terminally ill children make memories.

The charity has supported 430 children in Leicestershire with £433,006 of equipment. Right now, Newlife is working with a further 21 families with equipment needs totalling £19,490. To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email

Pictured: Garrat Garner