Eleven-year-old Shannon Gauld from Coldstream is finally getting the essential equipment she needs to help keep her safe at home, thanks to the UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation.
Shannon has a condition called global developmental delay, which means she has challenging and destructive behaviours and needs a ‘Safespace’ – a specially designed ‘room within a room’ where she can sleep and play at home without injuring herself.
Global developmental delay (GDD) interrupts the milestone developments that children usually achieve, affecting between five and ten per cent of children: motor skills - both gross motor skills such as sitting up or rolling over and fine motor skills such as picking up small objects; speech and language (babbling, imitating speech, identifying sounds, communicating using non-verbal means such as gesture, facial expression, eye contact and posture, and understanding what others are trying to communicate to you – comprehension or ‘receptive language’); cognitive skills (the ability to learn new things, filter and process information, remember and recall, and to reason); social and emotional skills (interacting with others and development of personal traits and feelings).
Shannon lives with her mum, Karen Waite, and her three cousins, seven-year-old twins Carmen and Taylor and two-year-old Sienna and attends The Grove Special School at Berwick.
And once her Safespace arrives it should be a relief to all the family as it will stop them worrying that she may hurt herself if she wakes during the night.
Shannon’s Mum, Karen said: “Shannon is in a giant cot at the moment, which she has had since she was three years old. But because she is 11 she is now tall enough to fall over the side rails. She also rocks it backwards and forwards and the only thing that stops it falling over is the position of the wardrobe in her bedroom. So safety is very much an issue.”
Karen has been waiting for a Safespace for around four years, since Shannon’s room was measured up for the specialist equipment, to be provided by statutory services.
Karen said: “I thought it was on order, and had just been delayed, but I found out recently that there was no money to pay for it so the order had been cancelled a long time ago. But no-one actually told me that.”
Karen’s next step was to apply to the charity Newlife Foundation for help in funding the £5,141 Safespace.
And Newlife’s chief executive officer, Sheila Brown, was so concerned to hear about Karen’s plight – and her long wait – that she authorised an immediate sign-off for the equipment.
Karen said: “That’s fantastic news; thank you so much.”
Sheila responded: “Too often the needs of disabled children like Shannon are being overlooked. They face delays which cause them pain, stop them achieving or overcoming their disabilities and in some instances lack of essential equipment puts them in danger. Children’s equipment services are a ‘soft target’ for cuts.
“Our equipment grants are so vital to so many children, offering practical support to families in need. Equipment can range from a pain-relieving bed to communication aids, from wheelchairs to portable hoists. Equipment that costs from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”
Newlife has provided £70,627 in equipment grants for 24 children in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. But the charity is experiencing increased demands on its resources; calls to the Newlife Nurse helpline – 0800 902 0095 – have shot up by 104 per cent, with thousands more hits on the charity’s website www.newlifecharity.co.uk
“Because of the huge demand,” said Sheila, “we are calling on ‘local heroes’ to help us raise money to fund equipment.
“Newlife is underwriting the cost of Shannon’s Safespace but we would welcome donations towards the £5,141; we guarantee that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to fund the equipment, with nothing taken out for administration.”
If you want to help, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event can contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.
Any money raised surplus to requirements for Shannon will be used to support other families of disabled and terminally children in the area.