A DISABLED children’s charity is urgently calling on individuals, groups and businesses in Manchester to raise desperately needed money to help children in the region deprived of life changing specialist equipment.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity providing specialist equipment to disabled and terminally ill children, helping to reduce the pain and suffering of thousands every year.

Ian Fraser, head of fundraising for Newlife said: “Latest figures show there are now over 125,000 disabled children across the North West, 15 per cent more than the last year.

“More demand for specialist support and equipment is putting extreme pressure on an already struggling NHS. A growing number of families have no choice but to turn to charities like Newlife because their local health or social care services refuse to help or have to endure unbearably long waiting times." There are 30 children in Manchester currently on the waiting list for specialist equipment from Newlife which will cost more than £32,000.

Children just like five year old Alfie Mitchell, from Royton in Oldham, whose life was transformed by a specialist wheelchair from the charity.

Alfie has dozens of epileptic seizures each day and can’t sit without support. His family couldn’t take him out very far as the seat in his bulky and heavy wheelchair only faced forward, so they couldn’t see if he was having a seizure.

Mum Lisa Mitchell said: “That wheelchair meant he could get to school, but we didn’t use it for much else as we couldn’t easily monitor him.

“It was also very bumpy for Alfie so his head would be nodding around. We desperately needed something with a lot of extra support and a seat that could face us.”

As Alfie already had a basic wheelchair from Tameside NHS, the family turned to Newlife for the £2,860 specialist lightweight wheelchair he needs – which has transformed life for them all.

Not only does Alfie have all the support he needs to keep him comfortable, the seat can be swivelled to face front or back, depending on his health, so his parents can see him at all times – and act quickly when needed.

Lisa said: “When he is having a lot of seizures we can make sure he is facing us, so we can keep a close eye on him and reassure him – and the equipment comes with a big hood so he can have a bit of privacy while he rests and recovers.

“It’s lighter and easier for us to push around so we can take him out more. It’s so smooth it glides, which means Alfie isn’t being bounced around like he was.”