With the new year approaching, it’s always important for us to look back at what we have achieved here at the Sunshine Fund, and what a year it has been.
Earlier this month, we revealed some shocking statistics taken from charity research, unveiling why the important work we do is so desperately needed. A staggering 40% of disabled children are going without Christmas and birthday presents and shockingly 33% of families with disabled children have taken out a loan to pay for food. For many families raising a disabled child, the extra costs can amount to over £1,000 per month meaning it's no surprise that 19% of disabled children going without specialist equipment or adaptations and 26% are going without essential therapies. A quarter of these families say that the disability benefits the receive do not cover all the costs. We fear that unfortunately this is the stark reality of our current climate and we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of families applying to our charity for help and support.
However, that is where we step in and we are so pleased to say, thanks to you, in the last six months alone, we have purchased over £100,000 worth of specialist equipment for children living with disabilities in our region! We cannot bring ourselves to comprehend the huge difference you are making to the lives of children right here in the North-East. We have supplied nearly 50 pieces of specialised equipment to children who so desperately need it, ranging from specialist baths that cost over 10k each and beds that are around 3k each.
This means that there are children that had a safe and sound night’s sleep this Christmas thanks to the work we have all done. Children just like Toby Horner, 6 years old, who needed a specialist bath fit for his needs due to life changing injuries he suffered at birth. Toby was starved of oxygen during birth and suffered life changing injuries as a result.
He has quadriplegic Cerebral palsy and Bilateral Cerebral palsy with dystonia and spasticity, which affects all four of his limbs and leaves him needing round-the-clock care. Up until the special delivery of his new bath, his parents Tracey and Adam had to carry him upstairs for every bath time which was putting a huge strain on their backs as he grew bigger. This Christmas Toby was able to complete a Christmas eve routine like every other child in his new his specialist bath with all of the hoists and features he needs.
Mum Tracey, 36, said: "It's been great, it's made such a massive difference. Previously we were carrying him up and down stairs and were always worried in case we dropped him or accidentally knocked his head. Now he can relax and chill out before bed. Warm baths help relax his muscles and he gets a better night's sleep. Seeing him finally relaxing in the bath is great, it's been a massive help. But the most important thing has been his comfort. It's just been wonderful. It's there for the rest of his life now, it will last him forever as it's huge."
Children have also been supplied with specialist sports wheelchairs, like little Robbie Jones, who this year gained a new lease of life thanks to the equipment we could provide for him due to your donations. Sporty lad Robbie lost both his legs to meningitis at just 22 months old, however now thanks to his new sporting wheelchair he is able to join in with activities he loves such as disability football and wheelchair racing.
Five-year-old Robert Buckley, this year received a trike, specialised to his needs, thanks to your donations also. Robert, who has autism and a lifelong medical condition is now able to enjoy life like other children with his new trike, that caters to his specific needs, such as lack of balance and muscle tone.
There are SO many other children this year who have benefited from your generosity and had their lives changed for the better. From sensory equipment, to learning development equipment to wheelchairs, baths, beds and more, we are simply over the moon to know that it is the kindness of people in the North-East that continue to make such a difference.
In 2019 we had so many successful campaigns, events and fundraisers and we cannot wait to see what is in store for us in 2020.
Thank you for all of your support and Happy New Year.