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October 11, 2023

Grant amount: £5,000

Douglas Bader Foundation

  • Grant programme: Positive Futures
  • Region: South East

To provide 5 slip on and go prosthetic arms and multifunctional attachments for children and young people in the South East

About the organisation

The Douglas Bader Foundation was formed in honour of Sir Douglas Bader in 1982. Sir Douglas became an inspiration to the disabled and able bodied alike by demonstrating the ability to ‘get on with your life’. Today the Douglas Bader Foundation exists to advance and promote the physical, mental and social welfare of persons who are without one or more limbs, or otherwise disabled. Losing a limb is a terrifying, life-changing experience. Over the years we have developed a number of important initiatives and projects to support and inspire people who a have suffered an amputation, or been born without limbs, or have a disability. All our activities help to promote health, well-being, social inclusion, whilst developing confidence, self-esteem, coping strategies, improve disabled peoples quality of life. For 40 years Douglas Bader Foundation has raised awareness and supported the physical, mental and social welfare of people who are without one or more limbs physically, or otherwise disabled. Our work supports adults, veterans and children with disabilities who can all feel precluded from fully participating in mainstream life.

The principal activities of the Foundation are to collect funds to advance and promote the physical, mental and spiritual welfare and benefit of persons who are disabled, in particular, those without one or more limbs, and to relieve financial hardship amongst such persons. The charity’s initial focus was on helping amputees but, over the years, it has broadened its aims to include those with other disabilities.

About the project

Project LiMITTless

Since its launch Project LiMITTless has provided over 560 children with soft prosthetics and a limb buddy. Our initial aim was to provide ‘MITT’s’ to children under 9 years of age. Now our ambition is for this service to be available to every child in the UK with limb difference, up to the age of 18. The adolescent years are when new sporting activities, music, art etc and self-image all become crucial to development and mental wellbeing. The project aims to support existing users, new users and those with very bespoke needs. What is a MITT? A slip-on-and-go prosthetic arm made up of a soft fabric sleeve and inter-changeable tools. The aim of this soft-shell design is to be as comfortable as your favourite pair of trainers, but multi-functional like the best builder’s toolbox. Our mission is to provide every young person up to 18 years, in the UK, with a mitt sleeve and tools. Each MITT package consists of 2 MITT sleeves and 2 Interchangeable tools, with instructions. Each package costs £1000. Every child deserves to have the ability to partake in whatever hobby they want and to have a customisable and fun prosthesis. The idea is to give youngsters with upper limb impairments the opportunity to try anything and everything. They often get frustrated and believe that they “can’t do it.” The thing is, they absolutely can! Give them the right tools and they can do whatever they set their minds to.

Impact of PHF’s support

Each MITT package costs £1000, so the grant allowed us to give 5 children a prosthetic, which can be life-changing for children with limb difference, empowering them to live life to the full and inspiring them to pursue their passions and interests. Prosthetics aid inclusion and independence, and support play, fun, exploration and everything else a growing child may wish to do. The package also includes detailed instructions and online support and advice for the children and their families.

How does the organisation exemplify PHF’s values?

The ethos of the charity has always been about “inspiration” and it’s this “can do” attitude that we see as being Sir Douglas’s most important message and the message we have tried to preserve with the creation of projects and initiatives for the Foundation in his name. Initiatives that we feel are fitting legacies of the man that we watched overcome his disability though his determination and effort as an inspirational example to both disabled and able bodied. We are a national charity and are very proud of what we have been able to achieve so far! As a well-known charity within the disability community, we receive many requests for help and we provide both practical and emotional support to those who ask for it, at a time when they need it most. We continue to deliver all our initiatives; expand the core support services to the community we serve; maintain strong relationships with those charities and advisory groups that also support the same community and continue to maintain awareness of the work we do at DBF. We feel that our values embody all that PHF exemplifies.

Feedback on the project

Here are a few words from the parents of 2 children who have benefitted from a ‘MITT’………….

Ryan was thrilled that he could finally skip and we’re really excited to know that the Mitt team is working on an attachment to help with riding a bike too. We can’t wait to try that one out! The best thing about Mitt for us is that Ryan has even more options. Whatever activities or hobbies he may want to try now, or in the future – even if they need two hands to do – he has no limitations. Nothing will hold him back and that’s just wonderful.

The first time Hero put it on she did 15-20 minutes drawing. It was great as it had a firm grip, so the pens didn’t wobble around like they had done with the gripping aid.  Hero also likes to be helpful and to get involved with whatever we are doing. She was delighted to use a screwdriver for the first time, using her left hand to turn the screwdriver while she steadied it with her Mitt. One moment that really stands out for me though, was when she was helping us paint an outside wall. She picked up her cup in one hand, while her Mitt held on to the paintbrush. Holding two objects, one in each hand, may sound like a really simple thing, but it was quite emotive for me. I’m so used to seeing her stop and have to put down whatever she is doing in order to have a drink, so that was a very special moment.