Families | News

WellChild Helping Hands project helps highlight the challenges of home suitability for disabled children

By Charlotte Edwards · September 14, 2021

A WellChild Helping Hands project will feature in a BBC Newsnight report tonight (September 14th) as the team resume work following the COVID pandemic. The first full project with volunteers took place in Manchester on August 10th and 11th, with a team from Hilti creating a new garden for Anderson and his mum Bertille.

The project was filmed for BBC television programme Newsnight who will be featuring it as part of their report on the issues around housing faced by children and young people with serious health needs and their families. The report is due to feature the work taking place on the project and an interview with WellChild’s Director of Programmes Tara Parker.

During the two-day project WellChild and Hilti were able to transform Anderson’s garden into a safe, accessible and sensory space for him to use. Anderson has a severe acquired brain injury from complications following a go karting accident in 2018. He has no gross or fine motor functions and needs 24-hour care. He requires both a tracheostomy to help him breathe and a gastrostomy for feeding.

The family garden was inaccessible to Anderson. But the team of volunteers from Hilti came together and worked tirelessly over two days to create a usable space which allows level, wheelchair access and provides sensory stimulation.

To allow wheelchair access to the garden a gravel path was laid along the side of the home and a large deck was constructed which runs directly onto artificial grass. The volunteers created a sensory area including planting for scent and sound as well as a bespoke water feature to add another sight and sound element. This new accessible space meets the family’s needs so they can finally enjoy spending time together outdoors, creating wonderful memories.

The WellChild Helping Hands programme had to go on hold during lockdown and the project featured in tonight’s programme was the first one back with volunteers. The team are currently working through a back log of requests for help following the pandemic and costs have escalated due to materials shortages.

Colin Dyer, WellChild Chief Executive said: “It is fantastic to have the WellChild Helping Hands team back on the road with the help of volunteers from Hilti and some of our other partners.

The WellChild Helping Hands programme provides essential practical support to seriously ill children and families unable to access safe and secure spaces for development.

Colin Dyer, WellChild Chief Executive

Thanks also to our partner Westway Nissan for supplying the vehicles needed to transport the team and equipment to the project.

Whilst it’s great to get the projects back up and running, there are many more families waiting patiently for our help. We are doing our best to get through the waiting list as quickly as we can with limited resources.”

See the full BBC Newsnight report on BBC 2 tonight (14th September) at 10:30PM.