Charity warns of cost of living crisis for families with disabled children

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A disabled children's charity has warned that the rising cost of living could lead to families of disabled children facing real financial struggles.

Brainwave supports young people with disabilities and additional needs. Its chief executive has told ITV News now is as difficult a time as the charity has faced in its four decades of existence.

Keith Sinclair said: "I think there could be more support available, particularly for those families where they've got high living costs and don't have a choice in terms of reducing their use of utilities and fuel costs because of their situation.

"I think that there is more to be done in that area, but also we know that our own role within that is to try and generate as much income as we can in order to carry on providing the service, but also to make that accessible to more children and families."

The family of 15-year-old Rachel Gallagher is just one of the hundreds of families who are currently on a Brainwave program. They have travelled to the charity's base in Bridgwater, Somerset, every year since 2010 for therapy and guidance.

Rachel suffered a brain injury at birth, but the treatment and skills she’s learnt at Brainwave's centre have made an enormous difference to her.

She said: "It has helped improve my quality of life and without it, I don't know where I would be.

"You've got to put the work in to see the improvement and I wouldn't be where I am today without the help of my parents and my sisters."

With that support, her determination and Brainwave’s program, Rachel is doing incredibly well. Children who are helped by this charity have a range of conditions including autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.

The family of Rachel Gallagher (far left) are just one of hundreds currently following a Brainwave programe Credit: Ciara Hynes

Rachel's mum, Ciara Hynes, said: "We tend to tag a holiday to Cornwall on to the end or at the beginning of our Brainwave sessions, so it’s almost become a bit of a family tradition.

"She’s got two older sisters so for the past 12-13 years, it’s been part of what we do for the summer. It takes the work out of it as well."

Her dad, James Gallagher, said: "Her two older sisters are very much involved. They really push her on because she wants to be like them - able to run after them, do what they do."

Launched in 1982, Brainwave used to be called the Kerland Foundation. Since then the charity has delivered more than 13,000 assessments to children with disabilities to help them achieve greater independence.

To mark its anniversary, Brainwave hopes to raise £40,000 to fund a new therapist to support even more young people.

Families, volunteers, supporters and staff past and present are also invited to take part in ’40 Years of Memories’ and share their experiences of Brainwave on its website.

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