Isle of Wight mum Berenice Stanley will soon be able to get her children out and about in safety thanks to the donation of a specialist buggy from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, working in partnership with Marks and Spencer.
Having a seven-year-old who needs a wheelchair to get around as well as a young baby to transport means leaving the house in Newport with both children is hugely difficult.
Daughter Jaine Stanley has infantile scoliosis and at the age of four became the first child in the South of England to have magnetic growing rods (which are extended externally every ten weeks and are replaced every two years) inserted into her spine. Her walking and balance are still affected so she uses a wheelchair for mobility. Sister Callie was born last July and has Down’s Syndrome. So Berenice has constantly needed someone else with her to help push wheelchair and baby buggy when husband Myles is working.
“It’s an absolute nightmare,” said Berenice. “When Jaine has to go to hospital we have to go to Southampton, which is quite a trek. It takes us all day to go there and come back. A double buggy is a real necessity.
“Because Jaine is seven and there is such a difference in weight between her and Callie, a standard double buggy wouldn’t be any good. There just isn’t anything suitable on the mainstream market. Jaine needs extra support for her spine, especially after surgery to replace the rods, which is done regularly. A specialist buggy which places them one behind the other will be safer and more comfortable and would mean I could go out with them both on my own.”
With no funding available from local statutory services and the buggy costing £2,399, the family turned to Newlife charity for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
Newlife found £800 of funding and a local media appeal attracted a further £312; now a partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is providing the remaining funding for the equipment.
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 240 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £815,000 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 charity, 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 more than £16,000 of equipment for eight under-19s on the Isle of Wight. Right now, the charity is currently working with another family on the island.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families on the Isle of Wight go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/isleofwight. 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 county.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised on the island will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness on the Isle of Wight.
Pictured: Jaine Stanley