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Four-year-old Shai-Leigh Porter is sleeping safely thanks to the donation of a specialist bed from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.

Shai-Leigh, from Southampton, has low muscle tone – which means she cannot walk unaided – developmental delay and behavioural difficulties. With no awareness of danger, she had been sleeping in a standard cot for her own safety – however, her arms and legs regularly got trapped between the side rails.

Shai-Leigh’s occupational therapist recommended a specialist bed to keep her safe and aid her sleep – and because of the high cost of the equipment helped the Porter family apply to Newlife Foundation for help.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Dad Stephen Porter said: “We had tried putting Shai on a mattress on the floor, but she fell off this a few times, making her face bleed. The best option was to use a cot, but she thrashes around a lot at night and her arms and legs got stuck between the bars, which wasn’t safe either.”

He added: “We tried everywhere to get a suitable disability cot for Shai; our OT did some research and recommended Newlife.”

Recognising the urgency of the situation, Newlife Foundation provided a specialist bed, within days, through its Emergency Safety Loan service. Stephen said: “This bed is perfect for her. It is fully padded so she can’t hurt herself on the sides at night and because it electronically rises up and down the bed can be used as a safe play area during the day, opening out into the bedroom. Shai no longer wakes herself up at night because she has hurt herself, so her sleep pattern has improved.”

Now, through its partnership with Marks & Spencer, Newlife is providing the Porter family with a permanent specialist bed for Shai-Leigh, at a cost of £5,050.

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 £576,654 of equipment for 371 under-19s in Hampshire. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 12 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £8,829.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Hampshire go to: The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 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 Hampshire will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Pictured: Shai-Leigh Porter