Charity helps Zoe keep up with her friends

Five-year-old Zoe Robinson from Sheffield was given a new wheelchair by charity the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children
Five-year-old Zoe Robinson from Sheffield was given a new wheelchair by charity the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children
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Five-year-old Zoe Robinson, from Sheffield, will now be able to keep up with her friends after a charity gave her a hi-tech powered wheelchair.

Zoe, who has cerebral palsy, previously used a manual wheelchair but was struggling to propel herself before the Newlife Foundation stepped in.

Whether she was at home or at school with her friends in the playground, she always needed an adult present to help her move around - the new chair, worth more than £6,000, will now give her independence.

Her mother Sarah Kettlewell, of Crookes, said: “Zoe is now at school and she wants to be like all the other children; she wants to be able to keep up with the friends she is making. But the social dynamics change completely when there is always a teacher or parent around to push the wheelchair. It has been a massive concern to me that she will be able to integrate academically and socially into the school because life can be very isolating for children like Zoe. A powered wheelchair will make a huge difference.

“When she trialled the equipment the look of joy on Zoe’s face was wonderful to see. The fact that mummy was on the other side of the room and she was able to move where she wanted to go was a real boost for her. I began to realise how much potential a hi-tech wheelchair could unlock in Zoe.”

The chair was provided by the Newlife Foundation thanks to a partnership with Marks and Spencer, which has worked with the charity since 2006.

The chain donates returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold to the charity, which either sells them in their shop in Cannock or recycles what cannot be sold.

There is no statutory funding available for the type of chair Zoe needed, so the family Newlife.

In October 2010, Marks and Spencer launched a grants scheme, which has since helped fund over 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling £630,000 for disabled children across the UK.

Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks and Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”

Sheila Brown , chief executive of Newlife Foundation, added: “OIt is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”

Newlife has helped provide more than £279,000 of equipment for 310 under-19s in South Yorkshire, and is currently working with another 15 families with equipment needs.