Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has been inundated with calls following the launch of an innovative service that takes redundant equipment from local authority stores, refurbishes it and makes it available to families in real need.
Newlife services have provided more than £10million of equipment such as beds and mobility items to disabled children, often ‘bailing out’ local statutory service provision to meet the need of those in urgent need. This is despite the fact that across the UK there are thousands of items of ‘special’ equipment (estimated c.£90million worth) sitting in warehouses, unused.
In response to this situation Newlife launched a pilot recycling scheme, spurred on by a local authority’s offer of a container load of children’s disability equipment – some used and some brand new – that was going to landfill. From this container over 100 items were reclaimed, professionally refurbished, clinically cleaned and certified for use.
On Monday 20 January the website offering this equipment was launched – www.newlifeable.co.uk – and the charity was overwhelmed with demand from families and health professionals.
Eight days later, families started receiving equipment. Vicky Cleaver from Portsmouth said: “We were saving up for a specialist buggy when we were told about Newlifeable – and they had just the piece of equipment we needed.”
The mum to two-year-old Archie, who has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, added: “It’s absolutely amazing. Archie doesn’t qualify for wheelchair services for another few months, so having the opportunity to get the right equipment when he really needs it has been great.”
Newlife Foundation will now be launching Phase Two of the pilot service which will see the charity sourcing further equipment from individual community stores around the UK, for use nationally.
Speaking for Newlife, Head of Operations Stephen Morgan said: “As more children survive conditions, we are seeing an increasing number of long and short term disabilities. Children often require equipment to enable them to overcome these disabilities, but there is a national shortfall in provision.
“The number of children in need is rising but the budgets set for provision through statutory services are declining at local levels. So new ways must be found to make provision and it is simply a waste of resources for organisations to hold equipment they don’t need.
“Our pilot shows that if we can get this equipment back into circulation nationally then it can be used to meet the genuine needs of children. We received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from families and professionals and have immediately placed almost all of the equipment we had ready. This proves the demand is out there.
“Had we bought this equipment new it would have cost around £150k; transporting and refurbishing it only cost around £30k (1/5 of the ‘buying new’ cost) so everyone wins – especially the children who will no longer have to wait for the help they need.”
Newlife has a history of being innovative and enterprising to meet need, running its own recycling business in partnership with some of the UK and Europe’s leading retailers.
Stephen added: “We hope now that this scheme has been proven and we can accept more of this under-used equipment to help even more children across the country.”
More information about the project, called Newlifeable, can be found on the charity’s dedicated project website – www.newlifeable.co.uk – featuring photographs, descriptions and full specifications of every item available; this will be regularly updated. Despite the initial interest in this equipment, there are still a few items available. To find out what these are; contact Nicole Norris on 01543 431 465 between Mondays and Wednesdays, 9.30am to 5pm, or email email@example.com.
The first tranche of equipment advertised included specialist seating, manual wheelchairs, buggies, walking frames and assisted living aids like height adjustable tables.
All Newlife Foundation services can be accessed through our Newlife Nurse Helpline – freephone 0800 902 0095; the team of Newlife Nurses offers information on a wide range of disability issues and is the ‘gateway’ to the charity’s range of equipment grants and loans services.
Pictured: Archie Cleaver.