A close up photograph of the whole family.Sofie applied for a grant to part fund an electric wheelchair for her son Ned, who has Cerebral Palsy. Here, Sofie shares her experience of working with us and how Ned is getting on with his new wheelchair.

“I’ve been a freelance costume designer for just under ten years. Both my husband and I are freelancers and summer events and festivals are our main income for the year. Ned always comes with us and in previous work seasons I had carried him around all of the festivals whilst working. But as he grew this wouldn’t be a viable solution.”

“We were desperate for an electric off-road capable wheelchair for him, but the NHS could not provide one suitable for our house (which is too small for to be manoeuvrable indoors) and one which would also cope with the terrain of the festivals. Our monthly income is inconsistent and can vary wildly from month to month which is particularly challenging when trying to save money for equipment as SEN parents. “

“We knew we had to find a solution to give him freedom and independence and were facing a dilemma of an entire summer season’s work but no way of bringing our son with us.”

Sofie felt apprehensive when she first approached our charity, “ I was worried that I wouldn’t be eligible because my career in fashion and textiles has been completely through self-employment. I also wasn’t sure if ‘costume’ would count as well.”

The application process

Once they got started, Sofie and Chris found the application process user-friendly and felt supported by the FTCT team throughout, despite world events which quickly came into play, “Even with the pandemic striking mid process the FTCT were very thoughtful about keeping us updated on proceedings.”

Their FTCT grant contributed towards the cost of Ned’s wheelchair, while Sofie and Chris personally fundraised the rest through family and friend's. We are delighted to say the wheelchair has already changed the way the family live and given Ned a sense of independence for the first time in his life.

“He can drive himself around the beach and even go deep enough to paddle his feet in the sea from his chair! Throughout lockdown when we are only allowed an hour of exercise a day as a family it is so wonderful to be able to go ‘off-road’ for a little bit rather than stick to pavements -  we are incredibly lucky. The wonderful thing about this chair is that it is full sized (it currently has a children’s insert) so he will have independence for the rest of his life with it.”

“He is absolutely delighted with his ‘power chair’ as he calls it and screams with delight. Without the grant I still believe we would be on a NHS waiting list to be approved for an electrial wheelchair and Ned would have missed out on an entire summer of using the countryside and beach that he so loves and either my husband or I would have had to step down from work for the season to stay at home with our son – losing half our income.”

“I would definitely encourage them to apply as the FTCT are incredibly kind, helpful and generous and have completely turned our life around!”

How could we help you?

If you’re a parent working in the UK fashion and textile industry, your child may be eligible for a grant. Please read more about how we define ‘fashion and textile’, our grants, and what we fund