Children Today is a charity in the UK that helps provide aid and special equipment to children with disabilities who would not otherwise be able to afford the help they need. An incredible organization that is breaking new ground in terms of helping children in the UK and Ireland, Children Today is at once educational and inspiring. I spoke with Regional Fundraising Manager Emma Fawcett to learn more about them.
Love + Water- How did Children Today Charitable Trust begin?
Emma Fawcett- Our founder was Mr. Hugh McCaw. Hugh spent many years working in the voluntary sector, primarily for children’s charities. Around 16 years ago he identified that there was a gap in provision for disabled children and young people in the UK and established Children Today to meet that need. Specialist equipment and aids enable disabled children and young people to experience the everyday things that we all do, often for the first time in their lives. Whether it’s a walking frame to help them take their first steps outside or a powered wheelchair enabling them to join their family on a walk, it can literally change their life overnight.
Holly has a genetic disorder that affects her development causing malformed hands, feet and head, and needed special safe play equipment for her to exercise and develop.
L+W- It is amazing that children in need would have a hard time acquiring the equipment they need.
EF- Yes, and it is easy to assume that a child with a disability would automatically get the equipment they need. Sadly, this is not the case. This is where Children Today can help. We provide grants for specialised equipment to improve, assist and enhance the lives of children and young people with disabilities. Many families are unable to get the help they need from health and local authorities for major items related to their child’s disabilities such as equipment or home adaptations. This means that many families have no alternative but to purchase the items themselves, if they can afford it, and if not they can come to us for help.
This is Luke who has severe cerebral palsy and only has very limited motor control of one hand. We joined with other organisations to fund this amazing wheelchair that allows him to get around the house and outside, take himself to school, and even stand up, all controlled by a small lever he can manage.
L+W- What role do you play in the organization?
EF- I am a Regional Fundraising Manager. As we are such a small charity we only have two RFM’s so I have responsibility for fundraising across the southern half of the UK and N. Ireland. This mostly involves running fundraising events around the country, managing relationships with corporate supporters and community organisations and encouraging our supporters to take on fundraising challenges for us such as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or running the London Marathon. However, because we are so small it also means that I am not removed from the service provision side of the organisation. I often meet the children and their families and get to see first hand the difference that the right equipment can make to a child.
Joe is autistic and has very limited vision. He needed a special safe trike that can be managed by his parents but still give him exercise. He was so excited when it arrived he wouldn’t even wait to put on his shoes before running out to try it
L+W- What are some of the programs Children Today offers?
EF- We offer guidance and support for families through the process of identifying the need for specialised equipment for their child, choosing the correct equipment and then provide grants to fund the purchase. We provide ongoing support as families can come back to us every year with new requests as their child’s needs change.
Gabriella has cerebral palsy and needs very specific support and safety mechanisms in her car seat. It also swivels so she can be easily lifted in and out which will become more and more important as she grows.
L+W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had so far with Children Today?
EF- There have been many as you can imagine. Seeing the difference that we can make to a child and their family is often very moving. One that I particularly treasure was meeting a little girl called Nasreen. Nasreen was a happy healthy 8 yr old when she suddenly had a stroke. Two years on, she had recovered fairly well but has been left hemiplegic, paralysed down one side. One day at the beginning of the summer, Nasreen was watching her brother and sisters playing outside and she asked her mother if she could ride her bike with them again. Of course, she couldn’t and she just had to sit and watch. So her mother asked us for help and we funded a specialised tricycle with supportive seating, safety braking and other features. I have never seen a smile quite like Nasreen’s when she rode her new tricycle and could play with her brother and sisters again.
L+W- Is there anything else people should know about this organization?
EF- We welcome anyone who is interested in getting involved with our organization. People can help either by getting involved in our events or by directly donating. We receive no statutory funding and are entirely reliant on voluntary donations. There are 390,000 disabled people under the age of 16 in the UK with 100,000 of them having more than one disability. There is no statutory right for young people with disabilities to be provided with the equipment they need by the Government or the NHS, so the work we do is an extremely powerful aid for children in need.
Tomas is a 14yr old with cerebral diplegia confining him to a wheelchair. Tomas needed a very lightweight wheelchair to be able to independently get himself around at his school which covers a large campus area and also to travel with his friends.
To find out more, contact Emma directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Children Today’s site: www.childrentoday.org.uk
Follow Children Today on Twitter: @childrentoday
Join Children Today’s Facebook Page