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Newlife in the News

New Parliamentary Group for Disabled Children

Newlife has launched a new parliamentary group this week for MPs to focus on making it easier for families to access specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children launched the first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Equipment for Disabled Children in the House of Commons on Tuesday 10th March.

 Politicians from across the political spectrum gathered for the inaugural meeting and are committed to improving policies that affect the lives of families with disabled children across the UK.

 APPGs are informal, cross-party interest groups of MPs and Peers interested in a particular issue. Newlife has campaigned for the group to be established for several months in a bid to remove barriers that often prevent disabled and terminally ill children from receiving the right equipment at the right time.

 The APPG on Equipment for Disabled Children is chaired by Enfield Southgate MP Bambos Charalambous. Its other members are Peninstone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates; Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire; Islwyn MP Chris Evans; Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant; Airdrie & Shotts MP Neil Gray; Henley MP John Howell; Falkirk MP John McNally; Lord Chris Rennard; Strangford MP Jim Shannon and York Outer MP Julian Sturdy.

 It will respond to the issues Newlife has identified, try and identify solutions and shine a light on best practice.

 Clare Dangerfield, Newlife’s Campaigning and Public Affairs Manager, said: “Every day we hear from families who are struggling to get the vital equipment they need to keep their disabled child safe and comfortable, which is what any parent wants. We are delighted to launch the first APPG on Equipment for Disabled Children as it heralds an important step towards making vital policy changes across the country to help ensure children and their families get the right equipment at the right time.

 “Working across government, the APPG will investigate the reasons that children are suffering and make recommendations for improvement. We know there is not a quick fix but our voice will now be heard at the heart of Government and, through us, decision-makers are listening to the very real struggles families are facing and trying to find ways forward.”

 The APPG’s initial focus will be on Newlife’s #fixthefour campaign which aims to tackle the UK’s equipment crisis facing disabled children and their families. It was launched in 2018 and is a four-point plan which is committed to:

  • ceasing the use of blanket bans for rationing equipment
  • introducing a maximum waiting time for equipment assessments
  • establishing an emergency equipment response service
  • ensuring every disabled child is counted.

 For the last year, Newlife has been lobbying statutory services which refuse to provide specialist car seats to disabled children ‘under any circumstance’ – effectively having a blanket ban in place, something barristers advised was potentially unlawful.

Just 18 months ago, 83% of local authorities across the UK had blanket bans in place on the provision of specialist car seats but today more than 55% of councils can provide car seats following Newlife’s campaign to get them overturned. 

 CAPTION: Pictured at the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Equipment for Disabled Children are (left to right) Co-founder and CEO of Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children Mrs Sheila Brown OBE, Alex Hanrahan from the British Healthcare Trades Association, Lord Chris Rennard, Chairman of the APPG Bambos Charalambous MP, Newlife’s Campaigning and Public Affairs Manager Clare Dangerfield, Neil Gray MP, Newlife’s Operations Director Stephen Morgan and Newlife trustee Kathryn Griffiths.