Clear, practical advice on daily living equipment for young people
Many families are finding that equipment and/or adaptations for their children cannot be funded by statutory services and are therefore seeking alternative funding means - particularly charitable funding. To assist you in these situations, we have listed a range of national charities.
However - before you seek charitable funding (or buy) equipment for your child, we would advise you to seek specialist advice. This will help you plan for both immediate and long term needs, will increase awareness of the alternatives on the market, and to check whether the equipment you need can be provided by the statutory services (if this hasn't already been investigated). Furthermore, most applications require the support of a qualified health or medical professional.
In addition to this, the latest edition of 'A guide to grants for individuals in need' is published by the Directory of Social Change, and should be available in your local library.
You can also search for charities on the website, Turn 2 Us: www.turn2us.org.uk.
For more detailed information on the organisations listed, please click on the title heading of the organisation you are interested in. This will open an external link to their website from where you can read more on their eligibility criteria, how to apply and what they will fund.
The ACT Foundation (www.theactfoundation.co.uk)
ACT's grants generally fall into the following areas: building (funding modifications such as stairlifts, bathroom adaptations and vehicle adaptations), equipment (provision of specialised wheelchairs, other mobility aids and equipment including medical equipment to assist independent living) and financial assistance towards the cost of respite breaks. They will not make grants which would replace statutory funding and/or which would pay for work that has already taken place or equipment already purchased or on order.
Action for kids (www.actionforkids.org)
Action For Kids is a national charity working with children and young people with physical and learning disabilities and their parents and carers. They help disabled children, young people, their parents and carers in three main ways: by providing mobility aids, work related learning and by offering family support services.
Caudwell Charitable Trust (www.caudwellchildren.com)
Caudwell Children is a national Charity that exists to transform the lives of disabled children and their families across the UK. Applicants must live in the UK, be 18 or under and fit the Charity's financial criteria. They can provide the following equipment: powered wheelchairs, buggies, car seats, therapy tricycles and sensory equipment. In addition they can provide funding for specific therapies for children affected by CP/acquired brain injury and Autism. Caudwell Children's Enable Sport Programme provides sports equipment to enable disabled children to take part in competitive sport and their Destination Dreams holiday to Florida is an annual fully-supported group holiday for children fighting a life-threatening condition. The Charity can also offer fundraising support for some treatment abroad and they have also launched a family service programme in selected regions which provides practical and emotional support for families. For further information please contact 0345 300 1348.
Cerebra grants are to help children (aged 16 or younger) who have disabilities because of a brain related condition or injury. The condition may be of a physical nature, a learning disability or both. Cerebra offer direct and practical assistance to improve the quality of life of children and young people, e.g. sensory toys, tricycles and quadricycles and touch screen computers. Applications must be supported by two references, one of which must be from a medical professional. Grants are paid to suppliers, not directly to the child/family.
Children Today Charitable Trust (www.childrentoday.org.uk/)
Children Today raises funds to provide special equipment for children and young people with disabilities throughout the UK. Their aim is to ensure that every disabled child and young person fulfils their potential and leads an active childhood. Funds donated by their supporters enables them to provide grants to purchase special equipment such as: electric wheelchairs, walking aids, trikes, educational toys (specially designed for children with disabilities), communication aids, adapted car seats, lifting and sleep equipment.
Engage Foundation (www.engagemutual.com/foundation/)
The Engage Foundation aims to give funding to community projects nominated by their customers, as well as giving financial aid to customers in need in the form of Personal Grants. The Personal Grants can include applications from parents needing help to pay for equipment for disabled children.
Family Action (www.family-action.org.uk)
Family Action has small grants available for medical treatment, services, facilities or equipment (including communication aids) for those who are sick or physically disabled. Supporting evidence is required from a relevant professional. There is also a general grants program which can meet needs such as clothing, fuel bills and household needs such as beds, cookers and washing machines. In addition to providing general grants, Family Action also provide grants for educational needs, particularly for the additional costs associated with education such as travel, books and equipment. Assistance is primarily targeted at families and individuals on low incomes, particularly those living on benefits. Funds are not available for items covered by statutory funding.
Family Fund (www.familyfund.org.uk)
The Family Fund helps low-income families caring for a severely disabled child up to age 17 in Scotland and Northern Ireland and up to age 18 in England and Wales. They give grants for things that make life easier and more enjoyable for the disabled child and their family, such as washing machines, driving lessons, hospital visiting costs, computers and holidays. Family Fund cannot assist where there is a responsibility on a statutory agency to help with the requested item.
Independence at Home (www.independeathome.org.uk)
Independence at Home provide grants for people with a disability or long-term illness towards the cost of adaptations, equipment or other things to help you to manage at home. The grant must go towards an item to assist a child to live at home. Independence at home cannot provide grants when the item may be provided through public funds. Applications must be supported by a professional involved in the child's care, usually an occupational therapist or a social worker.
Joseph Patrick Trust (www.muscular-dystrophy.org)
The Joseph Patrick Trust (JPT) is the welfare trust of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. The trust provides financial support towards specialist equipment to help promote mobility and independence for people with muscular dystrophy, or a related muscle disease. For example, powered wheelchairs, adapted computers and electric beds. The grants cover pieces of equipment that the health and social services do not provide, but which are still vital for maintaining independence and quality of life.
Lifeline 4 Kids (www.lifeline4kids.org)
Lifeline 4 kids provides essential equipment to help improve the quality of life for children (0-18 years) with disabilities and special needs. For the individual child they provide the full spectrum of specialised equipment such as electric wheelchairs, mobility aids and varying items including specialised computers. They are also one of the only UK charities prepared to help a special needs child from a low-income family with essential smaller items such as shoes, clothing, bedding and specialist toys.
Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children (www.newlifecharity.co.uk)
Newlife provides grants for equipment for disabled children. The equipment applied for must be essential and disability relevant. The equipment can vary from a wheelchair or a bed through to a communication aid and therapy equipment shed, they have also funded equipment such as replacement clothing and braille machines. Newlife do not fund adaptations and fixtures to homes. All applications need to be supported by professionals who can specify the particular type of equipment needed in the interest of the children's welfare, safety and benefit. The grants are open to benefit all seriously disabled and terminally ill children that are permanently resident in the UK and who are 18 years or under. Newlife don't means test, but due to limited funds they do take a view of the whole circumstances of the family.
The Nihill Armstrong Trust (www.nihalarmstrongtrust.org.uk)
The Nihill Armstrong Trust is a small charity that provides children (up to and including 18 years of age) with cerebral palsy with essential pieces of equipment, communication aids or specific services that their local authority does not provide. The grants are for equipment items under £ 2000 and the application must be supported by the child's doctor, school, social worker, health visitor, speech, occupational therapist or physiotherapist.
React (Rapid Effective Assistance for Children with potentially Terminal illness) (www.reactcharity.org)
React is a charity working to improve the quality of life for financially disadvantaged children with life-limiting illnesses living in the UK. They supply a wide range of equipment from specialist wheelchairs, beds, baths, and mobility aids, to essential everyday items like washing machines and tumble dryers.
Strongbones Childrens Charitable Trust (www.strongbones.org.uk)
Strongbones have funds available to donate towards arthritis, scoliosis, brittle bone disease and all other conditions of the bone. To be eligible the child must be under 18 years of age, and suffer from one of these ailments. They provide grants for medical equipment, computers/software, toys, sensory equipment, short breaks away, days out and proven household bills. Grants are normally £ 250 per child, but this figure is open to discussion depending on the child's circumstances.
Variety Club, The Children's Charity (www.variety.org.uk)
The Variety Club works to help improve the lives of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children and young people up to the age of 19 years across the UK, providing basic items that will improve the lives of individual children. Each year they donate electric wheelchairs, specialist beds, car seats, sensory equipment, standing frames and many other items that can change the life of a child in need.
Whizz-Kidz provides essential mobility equipment - powered or manual wheelchairs and recreational equipment such as trikes - that are customised to meet individual children's needs. The service ensures children get the right mobility equipment, advice and training at the right time. The wheelchair training programme includes improving the use of your wheelchair, new wheelchair skills and road safety awareness.
All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement