A charity that’s been an “absolute godsend” to disabled teenager Caitlin Chapman and her mum has boosted by kind staff at utility connections company UCML.
Soon after her birth, 17-year-old Caitlin was diagnosed with a severe form of cerebral palsy, which has left her unable to walk or talk properly, and she also registered blind.
For the past four years she’s been enjoying doing things like other girls of her age, such as beauty make-overs and shopping trips, thanks to Wrexham-based charity Dynamic, which provides out of school activities for children and young people with special needs.
Now Dynamic is to receive vital on-going assistance after being chosen as one of the official charities of the year by Utilities Connections Management Ltd (UCML).
UCML is a one-stop shop for businesses, developers, contractors, housing associations, care home providers, architects and many more across the UK that require electricity, gas, water and telecom connections.
Set up by former Manweb ScottishPower electrical engineer Arwel Lloyd 13 years ago to take advantage of utility deregulation, it is now based at Mainetti House on Wrexham Industrial Estate and employs more than 20 staff.
The company aims to find the most economical way to link into utility networks, cutting connection charges, and to ensure its customers work in the most energy-efficient way, so reducing on-going bills.
Caitlin was born in the Shetland Islands where her mum Mel Hooper was living at the time.
Mel, 47, from Borras in Wrexham, said: “She arrived eight weeks premature and at eight months old was diagnosed with severe quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy, which means that all of her arms and legs are affected and that she’s unable to walk, so she has to get around in a wheelchair.
“She can’t really talk and just says the odd word and because she can’t move her arms she isn’t able to feed herself. She is also registered as blind or partially sighted.
“But what she does have is a wicked sense of humour and is very good at pulling faces to let you know what she thinks about something.
“Caitlin has been attending St Christopher’s in Wrexham for the past four years, which is an excellent school for pupils with special needs.
“They’re currently working on a computer system that will hopefully mean she will be able to put together sentences by pressing buttons on a tablet keyboard.”
Mel, who has another daughter Chloe, 18, added: “Caitlin has also been going to one of the youth clubs at Dynamic for the past four years and was lucky to be accepted for membership as they have quite a long waiting list.
“She goes every Monday evening after school and on a couple of days during the school holidays and just loves it. Her face lights up when she knows she’s going.
“It helps her to feel that she’s just the same as other girls of her age and going to a youth club with her friends.
“She does all sorts of things like beauty sessions and having her nails painted or going out on walks or into town on shopping trips with one of the volunteers.
“It means she doesn’t see herself as a kid in a wheelchair but just as another kid.
“To me Dynamic has been an absolute godsend because it’s the only place where she can go to have some sort of inter-action away from me. I also love it because I know she’s safe when she is there and getting the kind of one-to-one attention she couldn’t get anywhere else.
“It does such amazing work that I’m delighted it’s been chosen as the one of the official charities of UCML.”
Dynamic supports over 100 youngsters aged eight to 25 by holding seven weekly after-school groups, Club 1925 and a Saturday group plus activities during the school holidays and a major summer programme.
Youngsters it helps have a range of disabilities from physical, intellectual or sensory impairments, to life limiting illnesses.
Demand for its services in the Wrexham area is so high that it currently has a waiting list of almost 40 young people.
The charity’s manager Carol Gardner said: “The support of UCML by choosing Dynamic as a Charity of the Year is a vital part of ensuring that the disabled children and young people of Wrexham who access our services can be assured their services will be there for them for the coming year and beyond.
“Dynamic relies greatly on such acts of kindness and generosity in order to maintain our unique and greatly valued services.
“We have plans for a purpose built new centre in the near future in order to further improve on the services we offer.”
Kathryn Lloyd, Commercial Director of UCML, said: “As a company, UCML encourages everyone to vote for a local and a national charity of the year each year.
“Dynamic was put forward as a suggestion by a member of staff who was aware of their work but not many of us at UCML had heard of them or knew what they did. So, after researching them, Dynamic was voted for to be our local charity of the year.
“The support and experiences they offer young people with special needs, and their families, is incredible.
“They currently support over 100 youngsters and they’re all in our local community so I hope that we, as a local business, can contribute in some way to the already amazing work carried out by Dynamic.”
For more details about Dynamic visit dynamicwrexham.org.uk or call 01978 263 656