Cumbrian based charity Diff-Ability has recently donated twenty baby suitcases to Leeds Hospitals Charity to support babies born with Down Syndrome at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

In 2020, the charity, which provides support to babies with Down Syndrome and their parents launched this ‘Welcome to the world pack’ for new parents who have given birth to a baby with the Diagnosis.

In Leeds, there are around ten babies a year born with Down Syndrome. Pregnant mothers from across the region are often transferred to Leeds General Infirmary for specialist care as there is a higher chance of a baby with Down Syndrome needing specialist health support.

The Neonatal and Midwifery teams in Leeds already receive support from local charity Sunshine and Smiles, a support network for families in Leeds with a child or young person with Down Syndrome, who had identified the need for better support for parents.

Diff-Ability worked in collaboration with Sunshine and Smiles and NHS staff across the units to tailor the suitcases to parents, many of whom are not local to Leeds.

The suitcases contain items to support the learning and development of babies, including fidget toys, a new outfit and a blanket. They also contain useful information booklets to support new parents, including a copy of ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’ featuring positive stories from young people with Down’s Syndrome, sharing their experience from babies to young adults.

Rachel Barwick, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Learning Disability and Autism Team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals says:

“Unfortunately, there is a longstanding history of an apologetic narrative around Down Syndrome, and we believe these suitcases are a wonderful way to help parents understand and celebrate how special their baby is and also support their mental wellbeing.”