The family of Birmingham teen Jack Byrne are encouraging local people to support a newly launched fund to provide specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the West Midlands.
Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has already helped 921 children in Birmingham through equipment grants and loans totalling more than £1,111,876, so the charity knows there is a very real need for a specific county fund. In this way it aims to help more children, more quickly.
Right now, Jack is one of 56 families in Birmingham currently working with Newlife Foundation to secure vital specialist equipment to help improve daily life. Further information about the Newlife West Midlands Fund can be found by going to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westmidlands or by emailing [email protected] Telephone donations can be made by calling 01543 462 777.
A mobile hoist from Newlife Foundation means Jack’s parents no longer have to struggle to lift him, so they can transfer him easily whenever he needs to move around their Acocks Green home.
Patrick and Renera Byrne can now move Jack in and out of bed or from his wheelchair to his comfy seat without the risk of dropping him. The couple, who are in their sixties, have been moving their son themselves as the track hoist installed in their home often breaks down.
The couple turned to Newlife Foundation for the £2,135 mobile hoist as they had been helped by the charity four years ago when they received a SafeSpace bed for Jack. The bed is part of a room to keep him safe.
Jack was diagnosed with a rare form of Epilepsy when he was just a few months old; this causes daily seizures. Jack’s dad, Patrick, sleeps on a mattress on the floor next to him so he is on hand if his son has a seizure. As well as learning difficulties, Jack’s condition means he is unable to speak and has limited awareness and is a full time wheelchair user.
Patrick said: “Jack has a hoist from his bedroom to the bathroom but it keeps breaking. We were without it for three weeks over Christmas and it’s difficult to lift Jack.
“He also has an easy chair he can stretch out in but it’s hard for my wife and I to lift him into it. With this hoist we can get him from his wheelchair into it and we can get him into other areas of the house that the track hoist doesn’t cover.
“Jack doesn’t have much awareness but he can laugh and cry. He attends Victoria School in Birmingham, but he’s due to leave in September, after which he will continue in their college department until he is 25. He enjoys going out in his wheelchair and has his own personality – he can be quite mischievous and will just grab things, so we have to watch him. Jack enjoys going to Ireland for holidays to meet his many aunties, uncles and cousins.”
He added: “This hoist means we have a back-up for when the track hoist doesn’t work and it will definitely make life easier for us.”
The Newlife Foundation West Midlands Fund supports equipment provision for under-19s facing any significant disability, whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness.
Vitally, the Newlife Foundation West Midlands Fund website – www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westmidlands – will enable local people to find out who needs help in their county right now and highlight the support the charity gives vulnerable families. It includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email local[email protected] – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families.
That might involve taking part in a local sporting challenge, give you information on how to organise a fundraising event – or even ask you to donate £5 today! Volunteers are also needed to help raise awareness of what we do and how we do it.
We hope that by launching the Newlife West Midlands Fund, children with disabilities or terminal illness in the county won’t have to go without the equipment they need for everyday life.
Newlife Foundation supports families in West Midlands through a range of free services:
Emergency equipment loans
Sensory and developmental toy ‘pod’ loans.
Pictured: Jack Byrne
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