Seweryn Halas from Ashton-under-Lyne has a complex health condition that requires constant support for his head and body.
The five-year-old has scoliosis and developmental delay, which means he can’t hold himself upright, as well as intermittent seizures which can last anything from a few seconds to several minutes. His parents have recently bought a car, but a standard car seat isn’t posturally suitable – or safe – for Seweryn.
Dad Rafal Halas said: “My son has to go to a lot of hospital appointments, mostly in Manchester – including with his neurologist, orthopaedic consultant, physiotherapist and optomologist – and going by public transport can be very tiring and stressful for Seweryn.
“It’s good that we now have a car to make these journeys easier for him, but Seweryn can’t use a regular car seat, it wouldn’t be safe.”
Seweryn has been able to trial a specialist seat that offers significant lateral, lumbar and head support, has a five-point harness for safety and a swivel base to make it easier to get him in and out of the vehicle as he gets older. However, with the equipment costing £2,095 and no funding available from statutory services the family 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.
A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing 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 Staffordshire 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 £405,315 of equipment for 480 under-19s in the Greater Manchester area. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 28 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £47,698.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in the area go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/greatermanchester. The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email email@example.com – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families across Greater Manchester.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Greater Manchester will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the metropolitan area.
Pictured: Seweryn Halas