West Midlands MEP Michael Cashman visited Staffordshire-based charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children on Friday (November 15), as the organisation announced its first foray into Europe.
The charity is funded through Newlife Trading Ltd, which offers a unique recycling service to around 450 UK High Street chain stores, designer labels and supermarkets. Now a Dutch based fashion lingerie retail chain with around 600 outlets across Europe will be working with Newlife Trading Ltd.
Newlife Trading Ltd Director Colin Brown said: “We are looking to expand into Europe, building on the success of the service we already offer to a growing number of UK businesses. The trading company exists solely to fund the work of Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, supporting thousands of families with a range of practical support services. Expansion of the business will not only enable us to help more children in need, but also provide new job opportunities in the Cannock area.”
The announcement follows the opening last month by the Princess Royal of the Newlife Birth Defects Research Centre in London. This is the first centre of its kind in Europe and will focus on the understanding, prevention, management and treatment of in-born conditions of all kinds. Eurocat (European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies) figures show 1.7million babies are born with significant birth defects in Europe each year.
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Mr Cashman’s visit couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, coinciding as it has with the opening of the Newlife Birth Defects Research Centre in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital and the news that our trading business now has its sights set on Europe.
“He was interested to learn how we transform unwanted stock into essential disability equipment for some of the UK’s most vulnerable children who are being failed by statutory services.”
Equality champion Mr Cashman – a former BBC EastEnders star – said: “Every step I’ve taken around Newlife has left me inspired and humbled by the work that is done. The concept of channelling the retail element into helping children is very inspiring indeed. This visit has shown me that there is so much more that could be done by Government and funders in meeting the needs of children with disabilities who are often made invisible and voiceless by the system. We must also remember the care and support that families need.”
I go away determined to raise this at EU level – if there are funding gaps in the UK and this is multiplied by the 26 other countries, then we should be addressing this on an EU-wide basis.
“I leave here with a great deal of work to do.”
Pictured: MEP Michael Cashman with Newlife CEO Mrs Sheila Brown, OBE, FRSM at the Newlife SuperStore in Cannock.