The agony caused by eight-year-old Ruby Carpenter’s twisted and curved spine makes car journeys unbearable.
She can only bear to sit for 20 minutes in her standard car seat before the pain becomes excruciating, but Ruby and her four brothers and sisters, who all have disabilities, need to travel to at least 30 hospital appointments across West Yorkshire each week.
Now Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children is urgently appealing to the local community to help raise the £2,074 necessary to fund the specialist car seat Ruby needs.
Ruby, who lives in Huddersfield, uses a wheelchair and specialist seats both at home and school to support her S shaped spine. She’s blind, has poor hearing, suffers from epilepsy and has shortened arms as the bones connecting her elbows to wrists are missing.
A specialist protective car seat with extra supports, a footrest and a five point harness would ease Ruby’s pain, support her posture and keep her safe. A swivel base would make it easier to lift her in and out without hurting her further.
However, Kirklees Council don’t currently provide car seats for disabled children, which is potentially an unlawful blanket ban – when a statutory service refuses to provide a particular piece of equipment under any circumstances and can be used as a way to manage budgets. As specialist car seats can cost thousands of pounds, families have no choice but to turn to charities for help.
Ruby was adopted by Ben Carpenter, along with Jack, Lilly, Joseph and Noah, whose ages range from one to 11.
Ben said: “I was told Ruby would never walk, talk or eat, but she does it all, to the best of her ability, but needs specialist equipment to do it.
“Despite her needs she’s such a fighter, but there are times she’s in so much pain she just can’t physically carry on. She’s even begun saying she doesn’t want to get in the car.
“I stop as often as possible to help ease her pain, but it’s heart-breaking to see, especially as I know the right car seat would help so much.
“Ruby’s had such a rough start in life and already overcome so many obstacles. Now she just needs a special car seat to travel safely without making her pain even worse.”
Newlife’s Senior Manager for Care Services, Carrick Brown, said: “A potential blanket ban on something as vital as car seats can have a devastating effect on a family, eventually isolating them as they are unable to keep their child safe and pain free while travelling, as we see with Ruby.
“Car seats are essential to daily life to keep all children safe, the law insists upon it, unless a child is disabled in which case they can apply for a medical exemption – but why should children with disabilities be any less entitled to travel in safety?
“As much as we want to help Ruby and her family we simply don’t have the funds right now, so we are urgently asking local people and businesses to make a donation or fundraise to help her, as soon as possible.”
*STOP PRESS: Thanks to a great community effort and lots of media support we have now raised enough money for Ruby’s specialist car seat. However, you can still donate to help the other 17 children on our waiting list in Yorkshire and the Humber who need £24,659 of specialist equipment. If you are able to help please call 01543 431 444, visit the website at https://newlifecharity.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.