Families shouldn’t have to play the waiting game for wheelchairs

Ruth Owen by Ruth Owen
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The enormous positive impact that the right piece of mobility equipment can have on a young person’s life is what drives everything we do. That’s why it was so disappointing to read in the news this week that thousands of people are still facing long delays to receive an NHS wheelchair.

We know that for many young people, waiting for the right piece of mobility equipment can feel like waiting for life to begin. I speak to families who tell me how their new equipment made them feel like a totally new person, and that anything was possible now that their child had their independence.

Whizz-Kidz works closely with NHS England to help shape wheelchair services, and see that they meet the specific needs of those who access them. It may seem strange to hear it, but our ultimate goal here at Whizz-Kidz is to work to improve wheelchair services to the point that our own mobility equipment is no longer needed; that every young person who needs a wheelchair gets one that meets their specific needs, within a reasonable waiting time. NHS England has made their commitment to eliminate waits longer than 18 weeks by 2019 – a positive, and necessary, move – and we will continue to support them to ensure they meet this target.

In just over a week, changes to the Government’s bedroom tax regulations will come into force, recognising the specific needs of many families with a disabled child or children. These changes will mean many of the families we support will no longer be penalised for having an extra bedroom, something Whizz-Kidz naturally welcomes. It’s important, however, that families understand where they are exempt from the bedroom tax, and take the right steps to ensure they are not wrongly charged.

We had a fantastic cultivation and stakeholder event in the City of London last week, at which we hosted the Rt. Hon Nick Clegg MP, in conversation with our fantastic, dedicated Patron Nina Hossain. The event, which we held in the offices of our friends at PwC was a fascinating insight into the workings of the coalition government, but – more than that – presented a fantastic opportunity to reach new audiences and talk to them about our work. Robyn, an exceptional Ambassador for Whizz-Kidz, and one who many of you may know from our Christmas Appeal last year, had a heart-warming and inspirational chat with Nina, explaining the enormous difference Whizz-Kidz has had on her life. I know from conversations I’ve had after this event the very real effect hearing from our beneficiaries has on potential supporters of our work; they really do embody everything we try to achieve here at Whizz-Kidz, and inspire me every day.

On the subject of inspirational young people, this month also saw the first Kidz Board meeting of the year. Our young Trustees, who shape so much of our ethos here at Whizz-Kidz, continue to amaze me with their dedication to our work. We were delighted to welcome six new members to the Board – Bradley, representing the West Midlands; Lexi, representing the East Midlands; Amy, representing Scotland, Georgia, representing the South East. Josh, representing Wales and Brandon representing the North West. These six ambitious and tenacious young people join the Kidz Board which – under George Fielding’s leadership – continue to aim high and achieve amazing things for the young people they represent across the UK.

Thanks as always to all of you for the many ways you so tirelessly support Whizz-Kidz’s work.

Until next time,

Ruth

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