Kind strangers help autistic Peterborough child through online donations

Olivia and Emma Herbert

Olivia and Emma Herbert

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Kind strangers are helping to fund treatment and support for an autistic child who is fed through a tube.

Nine-year-old Olivia Herbert lives in Crabtree, Paston with mum Emma, but her sensory issues are so great that she has not been able to eat or drink anything for nearly three years.

Her situation was made worse when mum and daughter moved from their private rented accommodation to a council house which had no carpet, no cooker and filthy floors which Emma has spent days on her hands and knees trying to clean.

The garden was also absolutely covered in dog mess, meaning Olivia hasn’t been able to go outside to use her sensory equipment.

But a family support worker contacted the organisation 52 Lives, a website which aims to change someone’s life every week of the year through small collective, random acts of kindness.

And this week strangers are supporting Emma and Olivia, with offers already in for a new cooker and carpet, and donations coming in to fund play therapy to help Olivia.

Emma said: “The play therapy will try and ease her anxiety and increase her self-esteem.

“The kindness people have shown is so unreal. It really really restores your faith.

“I’m kind of shocked by it. People out there do not know who you are but are offering to buy us things to make it better for Olivia.

“She’s struggling a lot but she’s dealt with [the move] incredibly well taking everything into account. She can’t go outside and her special sensory equipment is in the garden, and she won’t walk on the floors because they are too dirty.”

Emma will now wait to see how much is raised once the deadline for donations closes in the next few days.

She added: “When you’ve been battling so long you feel like everyone is against you. I do not think I would be able to actually tell them how much this means.”

52 Lives is the brainchild of Jaime Thurston. She said: “I just felt this was a woman who sounded like she had been through a lot.

“I have a little girl who is a similar age and I do not know how she does it.

“I felt quite sad that as a mum she can’t give her daughter the therapy that she needs. It’s heartbreaking and I just wanted to do something to help her.”

The hope is to raise up to £1,500 to pay for the play therapy which is not available on the NHS. Jaime said every penny donated will go directly to Emma and Olivia.

She added: “Messages of support can also help a lot.”

To donate, visit: https://www.52-lives.org/.