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RIVER ISLAND HELPS TEENAGER SIT IN COMFORT AND SAFETYFAST FORWARD 15 FASHION EVENT IN AID OF NEWLIFE

When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a store have you ever wondered what happens to the money? Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the one in the Kingsgate Shopping Centre, Huddersfield – all profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to national charity Newlife. Usman is one of the many children to benefit from this life-changing initiative.

Relaxing on the family sofa is a luxury that 18-year-old Usman Khan does not have any more because he has an undiagnosed progressive muscular disorder and needs a special chair to sit in. Usman would regularly spend time alone in his bedroom as he didn’t have anywhere to sit in safety, but thanks to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children he now has his very own special seat so he can spend more time with his family.

Usman, from Birkby in Huddersfield, was like any other child until the age of four when everything changed for him and his family. Since then his health has deteriorated – he was able to talk until he was eight-years-old. He has spine and hip problems, uses special equipment to help him breathe and was recently discharged from hospital after being there for four and a half months.

The only places Usman could sit were in his moulded wheelchair, which is quite rigid and offers little comfort, and was his bed, which meant he was away from his family.

Mum Naheed Akhtar said: “Five months ago Usman was breathing on his own but now he is on 24 hour ventilation. Usman can understand everything that is going on around him but physically he is not able to do anything anymore. He is always smiling and loves to be around his family but without a special seat this was not possible.”

With bag levy funding from River Island, Newlife – the largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the UK – provided Usman with a special seat costing £2,782.

This has enabled him to spend time with his brother Bilal, 23, and sisters Romana, 21, and Areeba, nine. Without the special seat Usman and his family would not be able to create the sort of memories we all treasure.

Naheed added: “The chair came at a very good time as Usman was released from hospital a few weeks ago. It allows him to sit comfortably, it’s like his own sofa. When he sits in his wheelchair he has to be strapped in whereas the chair gives him a place to relax. Now he is able to interact more and spend time with us downstairs which has been wonderful.”

Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can help transform young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 411 children in West Yorkshire, worth over £400,000. If you think you could help a child in the county, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/West Yorkshire for further details.

If you would like to find out more about Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children and how to access its services, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline or go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk

Pictured: Usman Khan

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