Purley seven-year-old Azaria Brathwaite will soon be able to travel in comfort and safety thanks to a specialist car seat donated by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.
Azaria is one of only four children in the world with her complex condition which includes limited mobility, no speech, very small stature, severe developmental delay and sensory processing difficulties.
Mum Carolyn Brathwaite said: “Azaria will continue to need a car seat with extra support and five point harness to ensure her safety while travelling. At the moment she is still using a standard stage two baby seat which is just too small for her – it is cutting into her shoulders and the straps are attached to the seat too low for her so they don’t stay in place. She just isn’t safe but the standard next stage car seat isn’t supportive enough for her. In addition she is now heavy for me to lift and twist her into the seat and it’s damaging my back.”
With help from her occupational therapist, Azaria was able to trial a number of specialist seats to find out which one was most suited to her complex needs. But the family were shocked to discover that the model they need is priced at £1,522.
With no funding available through statutory services, the family turned to Newlife Foundation, the UK’s largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
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 Cannock 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 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling £630,000 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 Foundation, 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 £887,919 of equipment for 682 under-19s in Greater London. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 33 families in the capital with equipment needs totalling £35,822.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Greater London go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/greaterlondon. The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email email@example.com – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the capital.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Greater London will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the metropolitan area.
Pictured: Azaria Brathwaite