Rachel here – I’m the Family Coordinator at The Sunshine Fund. I manage our Application and Outreach Services. My main role is supporting families throughout the whole application process. I run the equipment assessment meetings with the support of our fantastic panel – who are all local experienced therapists and professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to the charity.
I retuned to work from furlough 2.0 in February, and WOW; what a busy few months it’s been! I’ve been working hard to get our Outreach and support programme back up and running and making sure that families across the region know that they can apply to us for life changing equipment.
If you’re interested in applying to us for a piece of equipment and want to know more about what we do, the type of equipment we fund and how to go about applying, keep reading because I’m going to do a whistle stop tour of our process below!
What do we fund? We fund a huge range of equipment that supports babies, children and young people with disabilities, special needs, and/or long term or terminal illnesses.
To make things a little easier, we have four categories that we use to describe the equipment.
Mobility: Equipment that assists with and enables movement.
Living Aids: Equipment that supports day to day essential living.
Sensory and Play: Equipment that provides play opportunities both indoor and outdoor.
IT and Communication: Equipment that acts as assistive technology for education, therapy and communication.
Who can apply to us then? If you live in the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham areas and you, or the person you’re applying on behalf of, is aged 18 and younger, then you can apply!
The best and first place to start is our website: https://www.thesunshinefund.org/
Head to the apply page – on there you can find up to date information about when our next assessment meetings are (we aim to have four a year) and you can download an application pack. We also have an Easy Read version and we can post out hard copies if you’d prefer those options. On our website you can also find a set of video tutorials that are also captioned. These videos have been designed to help support you in filling out your application – you can follow them step by step or skip to the sections you need a bit more information on.
I am always able to offer support in filling in your application – whether that’s via email, text message or phone call or even a 1:1 video call. (Hopefully in the near future I’ll be able to offer face to face sessions again!) We are happy for families to have someone else apply on their behalf – that could be a family member, a friend or a professional who works with you. Please just make sure you’ve given your full consent and your contact details are available. However, if you’d prefer your family member, friend or professional to be the main contact and handle everything, that’s fine too as long as you have given your consent on the forms.
Every application needs to have two supporting letters from professionals that work with your child. The letter needs to specifically mention the equipment you are applying for, and how it will benefit you or the person you are applying for. Without these letters our panel cannot assess your application so if you have any questions or worries about these letters, get in touch with me.
It’s really important that I mention that we cannot fund anything that the Local Authority or NHS could fund; so before you make an application to us, check with the professionals who work with you if you can be referred into their services first or be supported by them. We’re not means tested, so you don’t need to provide any information about your financial situation or provide us with any copies or proof of benefits.
You can apply for the full amount of funding that the equipment costs – we know how expensive equipment can be. Our panel assesses every application on an individual case by case basis but you’re welcome to call and have a chat about your application before you fill it in.
Once we’ve had an assessment meeting and your application has been reviewed by our panel, I’ll be in touch with their decision. I really want to emphasise that our panel always keep the child and the heart of the decision making, and where possible always want to fund the equipment. Sometimes though, there might be extra questions or evidence, or assessments needed before they can agree it and this means I’ll be in touch to start those conversations and see how we get on. We always support our families with possible options and signposting if the application is declined and were unable to fund it.
If your application is agreed, we always aim to fund your equipment within three months of the decision being made. As we’re a charity who relies on 100% fundraising our own income, sometimes there can be slightly longer waits to get equipment funded, but we’ll always keep you updated about this.
Ok, well, that’s everything I think! Head over to our website and facebook page for more information and you’re always welcome to contact me directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via our Outreach Hotline on 07935298541. I work part time, so if you needed to speak to someone urgently, you can always contact our main office line on 01912016066.
We look forward to hearing from you and seeing how we can help!