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SPECIALIST EQUIPMENT MEANS ISABELLE, AGED FIVE, CAN BE COMFORTABLE AT LAST

Everyone looks forward to relaxing at home in their favourite comfy chair – but five-year-old Isabelle Wilbourne, who has a complex medical condition, doesn’t have that option. However, that is about to change, thanks to provision of specialist seating by leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation. Isabelle’s mum Charmaine Martinson, from Greenwich, said: “We all like to relax when we are at home and Isabelle is no different. She sits in a functional chair at school – and then comes home to similar seating. It’s either that or we prop her up on the settee, but that means she doesn’t have the correct support for her postural needs and someone has to sit with her all the time otherwise she could topple over and fall off. So she ends up spending a lot of time on our laps.” Isabelle has Cerebral Palsy affecting all four limbs, microcephaly – a condition which affects brain function – as well as experiencing muscle contractions and curvature of the spine. Specialist seating – called a PPod – is available to help support the needs of disabled children like Isabelle. But the equipment costs £1,400 and Charmaine has been told that there is no local statutory funding available. Fortunately for the family, Isabelle’s physiotherapist advised them to apply to Newlife Foundation for help – and the charity has this week signed off an application not only for the PPod but also a request for a specialist sleep system to manage the five-year-old’s posture overnight. Charmaine said: “It will be a real boost for Isabelle to get this equipment. The PPod is portable so we can wheel her around our home in comfort so she can be a part of everything we are doing. We will also be able to take it with us when we visit family and friends so she won’t need to be passed around people’s laps any more.”

She added: “The sleep system is also portable, which means Isabelle can take it with her when she goes for hospice respite care. Isabelle loves to be outdoors and every year we try to get away from London – for instance this summer we went to Devon – so this will help maintain her posture and mean less pain for her when we are away.” Newlife has provided £707,203 of specialist equipment for children across London (through 437 Equipment Grants). However, demand for Newlife’s range of practical support services is increasing as statutory services budgets around the UK suffer further cuts and the charity is looking to ‘local heroes’ to help provide specialist equipment. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of all monies donated or fundraised in London can be ring-fenced to provide essential equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in the capital. Newlife is currently working with ten other families in London, with equipment needs – including specialist seating – totalling £18,860. If you think you can help a disabled or terminally ill child in the capital, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on 0800 988 4640 (free from UK landlines).

Pictured: Isabelle Wilbourne

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