Spectrum Housing Group grant helps disabled children in Devon

Spectrum Housing Group’s Devon+ Community Forum has responded to a charity appeal in Devon to fund urgently needed sensory equipment, helping disabled and terminally ill children in the county. 


Leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation supports families across the UK through a range of nurse-led services, one of which is the loan of ‘Kit Boxes’ full of specialist toys and developmental aids, for use by children in their own homes.

The Kit Box service was launched as a pilot project in 2011 as a direct response to parents’ concerns. However, as word has spread about the free service – which delivers the Kit Boxes directly to families’ homes for a 12-week loan period – demand has mushroomed, resulting in a current national waiting list of more than 140 children, 13 of them in Devon.

Lisa Elford, Resident Involvement Officer at Spectrum Housing Group, said:

“As soon as we heard about the appeal to help fund specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in the area we wanted to help. Newlife Foundation does great work and these Kit Boxes, which benefit lots of different children, are an innovative idea”.

Spectrum Housing Group’s Devon+ Community Forum, which comprises of local residents, awarded a total of £2,886 to Newlife Foundation – enough to fund six boxes of equipment.

“We strongly felt that this was a very worthwhile cause for Devon as a county, and one that we wanted to support” said Jo Hall, chair of the Devon+ Community Forum who awarded the funds.

The main reason that we chose to support Newlife was that we would be able to play a big role in eliminating the waiting list of children in Devon who needed these Kit Boxes, so it was a chance to make a big impact with the funds that we had available”.

The first child to benefit is 14-year-old Adam Greenwood from Witheridge near Tiverton, who has a chromosomal abnormality which causes severe Global Developmental Delay. Lisa Elford presented the Kit Box to Adam and his father Keith at their home on Tuesday 9 April on behalf of Spectrum Housing Group and the Devon+ Community Forum. Mum Maria Greenwood said:

“The problem I have – that is shared by so many other parents of children with special needs – is that Adam can be very particular about what he likes and will play with. Specialist toys and aids for children like Adam are very expensive, so having access to a box of targeted equipment on long-term loan gives us the opportunity for him to get used to the aids and for us to find out what he likes and what we might want to buy ourselves”.

She added: “For birthdays and Christmases we look through the special needs catalogues and choose equipment we think is appropriate – but it is all so expensive and we never know whether or not it is suitable until it arrives. For instance, I once ordered what looked like a bowling ball in a box; I bought it believing that it would be interactive and have lights – but when it arrived it was just a ball in a box, and it had cost £140! Fortunately, the company agreed to take it back and refund our money”.

Newlife Lead Nurse Karen Dobson said:

“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Spectrum Housing Group for helping us to help some of the most vulnerable children in the county. We know what a huge difference this will make to families.

Play is important to all children, but for those with a disability the opportunity to access a variety of interesting and varied aids may not be a reality. Some of this equipment is around £200 for a single item, which puts it beyond the financial reach of many of the families we support. Newlife Kit Boxes were launched to help alleviate this financial burden and to enable children to trial equipment.

Many families use our Kit Boxes to find out what sort of aids and toys best suits their child before either buying the items for themselves, applying to charities like Newlife for funding or approaching us for another box to continue the good work”.


Notes to Editor

Photo caption: 14-year-old Adam Greenwood, who has a chromosomal abnormality which causes severe Global Developmental Delay, receives a ‘Newlife Kit Box’ from Spectrum Housing Group’s Lisa Elford. Also pictured is Adam’s father Keith Greenwood.

For further information, please contact:
Lisa Elford, Resident Involvement Officer, Spectrum Housing Group
T: 0800 783 7837 / E: Lisa.Elford@spectrumhousing.co.uk

Jane Vincent, PR Assistant, Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children
T: 01543 468 888  / E: JVincent@newlifecharity.co.uk 

About the Newlife Foundation’s Kit Box scheme

Further information about the service can be obtained by calling the Newlife Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095 or emailing nurses@newlifecharity.co.uk. Anyone who thinks they might be able to help fund additional Kit Boxes can contact the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of all donations will be used to further develop the Kit Box service. Not a penny is taken out for administration costs. This is possible because the charity operates its own unique recycling and retail business which exists solely to fund Newlife’s charitable aims.

About Spectrum Housing Group

Spectrum Housing Group owns and manages over 18,000 homes throughout the South, South West and Midlands. The Group’s vision is: “Great neighbourhoods, homes and services and a great place to work”.

Twitter: @SpectrumHousing
Facebook: facebook.com/SpectrumHousingSHG
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