Disabled Plymouth three-year-old gets specialist support - thanks to River Island

When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a store have you ever wondered what happens to the money?

Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the one in Plymouth’s Drake Circus and Royal Parade – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

River Island is doing something fantastic with the plastic profits – funding £500,000 of specialist disability equipment over the past 18 months.

Plymouth three-year-old Sable Stevenson is one of the children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative. Provision of a specialist car seat is helping keep her safe.

Sable, from the Widewell area of the town, has a rare form of epilepsy with seizures, cognitive and sensory delays and behavioural problems. She has no awareness of danger and car journeys had become very stressful because she could undo her five-point safety harness and pull herself up on her car seat.

Mum Leanne Stevenson said: “Safety was a real issue, not just for Sable but for everyone else in the car including her sister Stella. A special-needs car seat was our only option.”

With the specialist equipment costing £1,252 and no funding available from local statutory services, the family turned to Newlife for help. Now, with the support of River Island, Sable is travelling in safety.

Leanne said: “This has made a massive difference, just knowing she is secure and we don’t have to be constantly watching her. Also, she can experience several seizures a day, despite strong epilepsy medication, and the new car seat has additional padding to support her when this happens. A swivel base means we can get her in and out of the car more easily, also important because he body locks during a seizure.”

She added: “When you have a child with additional needs it can become very expensive, buying equipment. If we can, we fund it ourselves – like Sable’s specialist bed, buggy and bath aid – but having support from an organisation like Newlife is a huge help.”

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can have a significant effect on young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

If you would like to find out more about Newlife, the charity for disabled children, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk.

Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 321 children in Devon, at a cost of £449,080. However, we are currently working with a further 12 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £15,075.

If you think you could help a local child, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/devon for further details. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email local@newlifecharity.co.uk.