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1 September

Laptop gives Katie new lease of life

A girl from Totnes who suffers with cystic fibrosis has been given a dream gift thanks to our grants programme

Eight-year-old Katie Stafford struggled to access any learning materials when schools were forced to close following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Without any technology at home to support her learning difficulties, Katie found lockdown difficult especially as she had to shield because of her health conditions.

But Katie’s love of learning has been reignited after her mum Sarah Burgwin applied to us for a crisis and hardship grant.

The application was successful and a new laptop was delivered to Katie’s home.

The notebook means she can now access a range of learning materials, have online sessions with her one-to-one teacher and sing and dance along to her favourite music.

And she can also use the laptop for medical appointments rather than having to attend hospital.

Sarah, 35, said: “Katie can only learn through computers, she is not someone who puts pen to paper very easily.

“I had an old tablet but it had a cracked screen and our old laptop no longer charges. But we couldn’t afford to buy a new computer.

“So it became really difficult to access any of the materials the school were sending out and we couldn’t really keep in touch with her one-to-one teacher.

“It was frustrating as she was getting further and further behind with her learning.

“We were racking our brains about how we were going to solve this as the school were encouraging us to use a computer, but it wasn’t possible financially.

“Then my neighbour alerted me to some grants that my housing association, LiveWest, were issuing and I applied.”

Having given out more than 600 grants to households across the South West, we immediately assessed Sarah’s application and supplied Katie, who has a six-year-old sister called Rosie, with a new laptop.

Sarah, who lives in the Bridgetown area of the town, added: “A lady from LiveWest rang me to tell me the application was successful and that I would be receiving a laptop in the post. They also sent me a mouse to go with it.

“I was amazed and thrilled. I had no idea that my housing association would do something like this for me.

“It was a lovely gesture of kindness and I am so thankful.

“Katie’s face was a picture when I showed her the new laptop. She was over the moon and couldn’t wait to get started.

“It has made a massive difference to her learning. She is now loving school again and the house is a much calmer place.

“She can speak to her friends through the laptop and has regular catch-ups with her on-to-one teacher.

“Katie is a lot happier now and she is cracking through her schoolwork. She is a visual learner and learns through games and more interactive learning.

“It also means that she can have virtual medical appointments and we do regular video calls with the hospital to check on her breathing.”

Katie, who is starting at Bidwell Brook Special Education School, Dartington, next week, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth and spent the first four months of lockdown in isolation.

Sarah added: “Katie was totally shielded and not even allowed out for one hour of exercise.

“So it has been tough for all of us. She has to have her chest flushed every six weeks and has regular physio and check-ups.

“It is a terminal illness but due to some new drugs and treatments, you can live a longer life now.

“She struggles with her breathing and can’t run around for long. Eventually we hope that she can have a lung transplant.”

Our Grants Manager, Tim Wotton, said: “We were delighted LiveWest were able to help Katie, and over 600 other families since lockdown, through our crisis and hardship grants.

“We know that there are families really struggling at the moment, so in addition to our crisis support, we are also opening a range of funding programmes to support community groups in LiveWest neighborhoods.”

To find out about our grants, please click here.

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