Co-operative shoppers help fund specialist equipment for Ely toddler Phoebe

Phoebe Matthews.

Phoebe Matthews. - Credit: Archant

Overnight stays with grandparents are a regular treat for many young children, but little Phoebe Matthews has been denied this simple pleasure – until now.

The three-year-old from Ely will receive a specialist travel bed thanks, in part, to shoppers at the Co-operative store in Littleport.

Phoebe, who has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and sensory processing difficulties, lives with her parents and older brother who also has ASD.

She has no awareness of danger and loves to climb – which is why her parents raised funds locally for a specialist £6,000 safe environment for her bedroom so she can sleep in safety.

Mum Gemma said: “We went to a meeting at Highfield School in Ely regarding specialist beds to keep our daughter safe at night. We were told we would get a disability grant from the local authority for the equipment at home – but unfortunately we were turned down.

“With some amazing support from the community we raised the money to buy the equipment ourselves, but we still needed a portable version of the safe environment so Phoebe can do things like stay with her grandparents.

“Until now, we have constantly been worried that she will wake up in the night and start climbing.”

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The family turned to the Newlife Foundation, which funds specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness, for help to fund the £1,765 portable bed. Newlife is Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity.

Gemma said: “The portable bed will help relieve a bit of stress by allowing us to go on holiday – like a ‘normal’ family – with the peace of mind that Phoebe will be safe at night.”

Chris Wright, manager of the Co-operative store in Littleport, said: “As a regional retailer we always ensure that our staff-elected charity supports people in need in our trading area.

“We are delighted to have been able to help Phoebe and her family in this way.”