There’s excitement all around in Sophie’s house, as the works to build a new bedroom and wetroom for the 7-year-old to aid ‘Sophie’s Independence’ have reached completion point.
The extensive works involved building a two-storey extension to the original house, running along the side and rear of the house, providing a larger bedroom with adapted wet room for Sophie and a downstairs storage room with space for a through-floor lift and storage of Sophie’s essential equipment and powerchair.
As Sophie’s parents explain, there were various challenges involved with meeting Sophie’s needs prior to the works:
“Our home was not safe for Sophie due to damp and poor insulation. The house was full of barriers to Sophie’s independence and stopped us functioning as a family. Our family bathroom was not fit for Sophie’s needs and bathing had become unsafe.”
Tasked with having to find £25,000 above the Disabled Facilities Grant and top-up funding awarded by the council for the works, Sophie’s family set about fundraising through Sullivan’s Heroes.
Along with a multitude of direct donations to their fundraising page, numerous friends and colleagues took on a range of events and activities to bring the cash rolling in – not least the ‘Loop Line Ladies’ who completed a 50-mile bike ride dressed as unicorns, raising a staggering £2,000 for Sophie’s project!
The family also accessed funding through Sullivan’s Heroes from a large number of charities – both local and nationwide – boosting the target within a matter of weeks.
Local names including the Steve Morgan Foundation, Jamie Carragher’s 23 Foundation and the Community Foundation for Merseyside were just some of the donors, along with national organisations such as Vodafone Foundation and City Plumbing. Support from a charity specific to Sophie’s condition of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) was received from The Annabelle Rose Foundation; together with that specific to Sophie’s Dad’s long-standing employment with Merseyside Police, from The North West Police Benevolent Fund ‘The Ben Fund’.
Together with many other organisations’ pledges, so successful was the fundraising, the target was not only met within a space of a few months, but exceeded by over 10% providing the much-needed additional funds for a few unforeseen essential extras along the way.
Once that target was securely met, building works commenced – with Sophie keeping a watchful eye on proceedings!
Now that the works are finished, Sophie’s family reflect on all the changes this has brought about:
"The building works have removed all the damp and replaced all the windows and doors along with the new roof and removed all our insulation problems which were so detrimental to Sophie’s health."
"The new open plan set up of our home has removed all Sophie’s barriers and means she can move freely through her home like any other child."
"Sophie’s purpose-built bathroom and specialist bath mean she can safely bathe and be washed with dignity."
"Being allowed to make the adaptions the way we wanted to make them has allowed us to live as a whole family. No child should have barriers in their own home and disability should not mean separation from normality and being restricted to ground-floor living."
Sophie’s father also gives us an insight into the build-up to the adaptations process and how Sullivan’s Heroes supported them through this journey:
“The world of Disabled Facilities Grants, planning permission, housing adaptions, funding and grants was terrifying to me and a complete minefield.”
"Sullivan’s Heroes gave us the advice, guidance and emotional support that no other agency or charity could give us."
Of the fundraising journey itself Sophie’s Dad continues:
“Asking for money was something that I had never done in my life and asking for it because I couldn’t give my daughter the home she needed was heart breaking. Along with this, the forms and differing criteria was truly overwhelming. Sullivan’s Heroes helped me make sense of all this and allowed me to be brave enough to ask for help. Without Sullivan’s Heroes we never would have got the funds we needed to make the changes to our home and Sophie never would have felt safe and free in her own home.”
We’re delighted at Sullivan’s Heroes with the beautiful, happy, and crucially safe, home that’s been created for Sophie, and conclude with these kind words from Sophie’s family:
“We can’t thank Sullivan’s Heroes enough – life with a child with complex needs is challenging enough without the additional issues that trying to adapt your home to meet their needs brings. Life for families like ours will always be difficult but Sullivan’s Heroes made it a little easier, for that we will forever be grateful.”
"The changes we have made cannot be quantified but I can honestly say that they have been life-changing and freedom-giving."