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Ten-year-old Jacob Day can look forward to weekends away with his grandparents, thanks to the donation of a portable safe sleeping environment from Newlife, the Charity for Disabled Children, working in partnership with Marks and Spencer.

Jacob, from Harlow in Essex, is a very active boy who has Autism, global developmental delay and epilepsy. He has difficulties sleeping but has no awareness of danger, so at home he is kept safe in his bedroom with a system of window and door alarms and motion sensors. However, this means mum and dad are woken regularly during the night to check on his safety. Mum Donna Day said: “Jacob likes to climb and will take the mattress off his bed and throw it around.”

His grandparents would like to help out with respite care every other weekend – but without a portable safety bed this has not been possible. Donna said: “Getting this equipment will make a huge difference to Jacob’s life. It means he can spend more quality time with his grandparents – and we can also use the equipment, which is called a SafeSpace Voyager, to keep him safe at home when he is poorly; until now that has also been an issue.”

Donna added: “Jacob frequently puts himself into dangerous situations, so respite care has been out of the question. Now, having the opportunity for Jacob’s dad and I to get the occasional good night’s sleep and recharge our batteries means we will be better able to care for him.”

The SafeSpace Voyager costs £2,500, but with no local statutory funding available his family turned to Newlife, the largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the UK.

A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing the equipment.

M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Staffordshire and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 260 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £850,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK.

Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”

Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife charity, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families. It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”

Newlife has helped provide £359,481 of equipment for 316 under-19s in Essex. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 22 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £13,080.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Essex go to: The website includes contact details for the Newlife Supporter Relations Team – 01543 462777 or email – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the county.

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Essex will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Pictured: Jacob Day