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NEW EQUIPMENT MEANS AN INDEPENDENT FUTURE FOR GEORGE

A Warwickshire teenager has the independence he needs for his future, thanks to a specialist piece of equipment from a leading UK children’s disability charity.

George Bastow, aged 17, from Atherstone, has been given a riser by Newlife Foundation, which is to be attached to his new powered wheelchair from statutory services. The seat of his wheelchair will now be able to access different heights – but more than that, it means he now has the opportunity to go out without a carer, socialise properly, go to college and embark on a career like others his age.

George was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy when he was a baby and he is able to get about at home by crawling, which gives him some independence. He also has a serious problem with his coccyx spinal area which protrudes through the surrounding tissue. He was provided with a powered wheelchair with a recline function through his local Wheelchair Services, as spending long periods in his manual wheelchair was painful as he had no pressure relief for his coccyx.

Although the powered chair makes life much easier, it still left him unable to reach things at different heights without help – so he couldn’t do simple tasks such as reach for a book or meet people’s gaze at eye level. As the £576 riser isn’t a medical necessity, Wheelchair Services are unable to fund it, so mum Julie turned to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help. The charity has previously funded manual wheelchairs and power packs for George.

With the riser in place, George no longer needs the support of an adult when he is out, which will hopefully allow him to attend college and eventually have a career as a writer – something he is very keen and motivated to do.

Mum Julie said: “It’s a big thing to be able to rise up and meet someone at eye-level, especially as he is getting out there and starting a career. He needs the riser to be able to sit at a desk properly too and hopefully this will mean he can start college.

“The addition of the riser to the chair is a massive thing for him. People in wheelchairs are often overlooked as people talk to the chair and not to the person. You can’t blame them if they haven’t been in that situation and George is exceptionally well grounded with a great sense of humour; but this will be so beneficial for him.”

George said: “I’m so thankful to Newlife for all the support they’ve given us over the years. My new chair will allow me to access opportunities and courses which my medical problems have delayed, but now the riser chair makes things much more comfortable for me, as I look forward to pursuing my writing career in a new shiny set of wheels.”

Julie added: “We are very grateful to Newlife, they have helped us for so many years and make it so easy. The nurses are always there for you, even if it’s just for advice!”

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Demand on our practical support services is growing. We awarded 33 per cent more Equipment Grants around the UK in 2013/14 than the previous year – this totalled £2,088,105; as a result, we are increasingly calling on ‘local heroes’ to help fund vital specialist equipment for children in their own areas.”

Newlife operates a social enterprise business which covers the costs of its core services; because of this the charity can guarantee that 100 per cent of all monies donated or fundraised will be used to fund the equipment for children in Warwickshire. Newlife is currently working with two families in the county, with combined equipment needs of £4,567.

If you would like to donate or raise money to help children in Warwickshire the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on 0800 988 4640 (free from UK landlines). Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.

To find out more about the range of equipment grant and loan support services offered by the charity, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines) or email [email protected]

Pictured: George Bastow

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