Family Fund, the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people have announced new funding of £5million a year, for the Family Fund Mobility Support (FFMS) scheme, which will give vital support to families raising a disabled, or seriously ill, child under the age of three, who has significant mobility needs.
Subject to relevant eligibility criteria, the scheme will give families with very young children, who have complex needs, access to a lease car that is tailored to their individual mobility requirements.
Following an initial pilot, Motability, the Charity has committed to funding the Family Fund Mobility Support scheme for the next three years, ensuring that 1,215 families across the UK, with disabled children, have easier access to appointments, reliability during emergencies and enough space to attend to their children’s urgent medical needs, when required.
The pilot scheme was carried out in phases, between January 2018 and December 2021, and helped 434 families with a lease for a vehicle and funding for the majority of their costs.
A fully accessible car can make life significantly easier for families raising a disabled child with complex needs, providing space for multiple bulky medical items such as oxygen machines and wheelchairs and, crucially, cutting costs for families who are often forced to use taxis to reach medical, and other vital appointments.
To be eligible for the Family Fund Mobility Support scheme, a child must have one of the following:
- substantial equipment needs, due to their condition or treatment. This means things like a mobility aid, oxygen/suction or other bulky monitoring or medical equipment
- an immune-suppressing condition
- high levels of pain, impacting their mobility needs
- an unstable condition, requiring frequent unexpected emergency treatment
- a significant number of appointments on a frequent basis, at multiple treatment centres
Louise Wood, Chief Operating Officer at Family Fund, said: “Our pilot project showed that this scheme is invaluable to families raising a very young disabled, or seriously ill child, with complex care needs. Families we work with told us that a suitable car is life-changing- allowing them to better manage the intensity of their children’s care and support needs, whilst also being able to do more of the things which really matter to them in life.
“An accessible car means families can get to frequent hospital and GP appointments and ensures they have the same opportunities as any other family, like family holidays and days out, which so many of us take for granted.”
Kayleigh, a mum from Lincolnshire who has benefitted from the scheme said: “My son Theo is two and has Ohtahara syndrome, a condition that causes uncontrollable epilepsy and brittle bone disease. It’s really hard to control his seizures on a daily basis, sometimes he can have as many as 17 in one day. There is so much financial burden that comes with having a child who is medically complex, it takes a toll on you.
“Family Fund helped me access a car, which has been a lifeline, getting to hospital, going on days out and having enough room in the car for all of Theo’s medical equipment. It’s also beneficial to know that Theo has enough space in the back if he has a seizure. It’s reassuring to know that he can’t hurt or damage himself in any way.”
Barry Le Grys, MBE, CEO of Motability, said: “Throughout the pilot stages, such an enormous difference has been made to the lives of many families who already have so much to contend with on a day-to-day basis. Being able to use Motability’s charitable funds to provide reliable and suitable transport, and the reassurance that brings, is at the heart of what we do, and we are delighted to continue our support for this vital scheme for another three years.”
Family Fund Mobility Support will identify potentially eligible families, working with them to select a car that suits their individual needs, before awarding a grant for a specific lease car with a worry-free package including insurance, maintenance and breakdown cover. Families will then be supported by Motability Operations Ltd, the independent commercial company delivering the day-to-day running of the Motability Scheme under contract to Motability, the Charity.
Family Fund and Motability Operations operate this scheme under authorisation and regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
To find out more information about the Family Fund Mobility Support scheme, or to see if your family could be eligible, please visit familyfund.org.uk/mobilitysupport