Imagine not being able to sit without pain or relax with your family while you watch TV and play. This has been life for a five-year-old Powys girl who is now getting a specialist comfy chair donated by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.
Lily Knowles, who lives with her parents and one-year-old sister in Newtown, has complex disabilities; she has poor head and body control and cannot sit without support. Unable to hear or speak, Lily also has provision at night to help her breathe.
Mum Vicky Knowles says: “Lily is in her wheelchair a lot of the day – her only option at home is a functional chair, which although it is good for her posture it just isn’t comfortable. She can’t sit with us on the family sofa because of her postural needs so for Lily to have a specialist chair in the living room where she can be comfy and relax will mean a great deal to us all.”
With no funding available through statutory services for the £2,538 seat, the family turned to Newlife Foundation, the UK’s largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing the chair.
Vicky added: “Lily has very floppy limb tone and we really need to look after her posture as she gets older. The new seating will help with this, giving her extra head and side support and the option to recline in comfort if she is feeling poorly without having to go to bed. This seat will help keep Lily at the heart of family life.”
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 £43,822 of equipment for 35 under-19s in Powys. Right now, the charity is currently working with another two families in the county.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in the county, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/powys. The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email [email protected] – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in Powys.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Powys will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.
Pictured: Lily Knowles