A specialist standing frame is helping reduce painful muscle spasms for nine-year-old Sonny Dinnen-Kennedy from Blackpool.
Sonny has Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy and two years ago underwent invasive hip surgery. Being able to stand, supported, for vital physiotherapy is an integral part of the management of his condition – but until recently he had to share a standing frame with several other children at his school in the town.
Mum Louise Dinnen said: “The equipment at school is quite basic and is shared by a lot of children – everyone wanted their turn so Sonny only got to use it once a week. This standing frame for Sonny is a very special piece of equipment. He is now using it most days at school for up to an hour at a time which helps stretch his muscles, reducing spasms, and aids his posture and digestion. If he can’t stretch he tightens up which causes pain and reduces his range of movement – which is why the standing frame will be coming home with him during long school holidays.”
She added: “Overall, it encourages good posture which is something that is very important for disabled children.”
With local statutory services unable to provide the specialist equipment Sonny needs, Louise turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help.
Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has supported 458 children across Lancashire. It offers a range of services and is now championing a recycling initiative which takes equipment destined for landfill and refurbishes it to meet national standards.
Beds, wheelchairs, standing and walking frames, hoists, buggies, seating and bathroom aids – collected from statutory services and individuals – are available on a first come, first served basis through www.newlifeable.co.uk
Families who would be eligible for a Newlife Equipment Grant – like Sonny’s – can apply for free support through Newlifeable, should the item they need be advertised on the website. However, each item can also be purchased at a substantially reduced price which covers the cost of refurbishment.
This not only enables Newlife to support more disabled children than ever before, it also helps statutory services by saving them storage costs for equipment they can’t allocate locally and at the same time enabling them to meet their legal responsibilities by creating a trusted UK-wide second-hand market.
Newlife Head of Operations Stephen Morgan said: “The number of disabled and terminally ill children in need around the UK is rising – government figures have put this at around one million – but the budgets set for provision through statutory services are declining at local levels. So new and innovative ways must be found to make provision. Newlifeable demonstrates the importance of getting this equipment back into circulation nationally.”
Louise added: “Sonny’s school physiotherapist was very impressed with how quickly our application was dealt with and the equipment was delivered.”
To date, Newlife has recovered over £1.2million of equipment which it has refurbished at a cost of around £210,000.
To find out about the full range of Newlife services, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk.
If you would like to find out more about how Newlife supports families in your area, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/lancashire. 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 the area. Right now, Newlife is working with a further 21 families in Lancashire, with equipment needs totalling £34,007.
Pictured: Sonny Dinnen-Kennedy