Six-year-old Lexi Tattall from Muswell Hill can now sleep in safety, thanks to a specialist bed donated by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children and Marks and Spencer.
The equipment – at a cost of £6,483 – will take M&S support of Newlife Foundation, the UK’s largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness, to around £600,000.
Lexi has epilepsy, a visual impairment, a brain condition that affects the function of her lower limbs and developmental delays.
She had been sleeping in a standard cot bed, but had fallen over the sides on many occasions, banging her head and face. Mum Lynette Humphreys ended up putting her bed next to Lexi’s to help keep her safe. Lynette said: “It just wasn’t practical. Lexi would wake up several times in the night. I was so tired that sometimes she would climb over me before I woke up. It was taking its toll on the whole family – I was exhausted, which made the daytime care of Lexi and her brother that bit harder.”
With the help of Lexi’s school physiotherapist, Lynette contacted Newlife Foundation – and the charity initially responded with an emergency bed loan. Now, thanks to the charity’s partnership with M&S, Lexi has her own permanent specialist bed to keep her safe for many years to come.
Lynette said: “This is a brilliant bed. It makes a huge difference in terms of Lexi’s safety because she can’t climb over the sides and it is fully padded so she won’t hurt herself if she bangs into it when she is having a seizure. The new environment makes her feel safer so she doesn’t wake up and move around so much now. For me, it means peace of mind because I know Lexi is unlikely to be injured. There is also a Perspex side panel so I can check on her at a glance.”
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 local communities across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise 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 more than £814,000 of equipment for 634 under-19s across Greater London. However, the charity is currently working with another 43 families in the capital with equipment needs in excess of £46,000.
In response to the growing need in the county, earlier this year the charity launched its Newlife Greater London Fund. The fund’s website – www.newlifecharity.co.uk/greaterlondon – enables local people to find out who needs help in their county right now and highlights the support the charity gives families. It includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families.
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.”
Pictured: Lexi Tattall