Background

Naeema is fourteen and lives with her two brother’s, one sister and their dad, Chubado in Glasgow, Scotland.

Naeema was born with Cerebral Palsy, a condition usually caused by a problem with the brains development before, during or soon after birth. “Naeema was a very small baby, we never knew what she was wanting. And then the doctors confirmed she has been born with Cerebral Palsy.”

Naeema’s condition and how it affects her

Chubado explains that the family originally lived in Dundee but were advised to move to Glasgow to be nearer the hospital that would best suit Naeema’s needs. “We had a team working with her right from when she was born in Dundee, but we were travelling to Yorkhill hospital in Glasgow very often. Our doctor suggested the move and Naeema has received great care ever since.”

“When Naeema was younger she needed 24hour care as she couldn’t dress, wash or feed herself. She had trouble with her left leg which had over rotated and had to be operated on in 2018. She gets startled every few minutes, and after tests with the doctor we found out she has no epilepsy, she does jump a lot. Sometimes the jumps make her fall to the floor so she uses a walking frame to help. She cannot walk long distances, it has restricted her activities, she can’t play or run like other children.”

“We have had support from occupational therapy in the home. They put a rail inside the toilet because Naeema fell and hurt herself so many times. And now she has a rail in the shower so she can wash herself and not fall when she is startled.”

“I still help her with wearing splints, ironing her cloths, cleaning her room, sometimes I help her with her uniform but now she is older and has had lots of help from physiotherapy she is becoming more independent, she still needs her wheelchair and walking frame, but her development has been steady.”

“Naeema is a blessing to me. Having her is a joy. She is always smiling and so happy. She loves speaking to her friends. As a single dad there are limited things we can do together. I think if Mummy would have been here, they would have been close. But we are lucky that she has friends that she went to primary and now secondary school with and she is close to them.”

“Naeema is just a normal teenager like everyone else, she knows what she wants and likes. If she doesn’t like something she will tell you straight away, she doesn’t hide her feelings.”

Daily life and challenges for the family during the pandemic

“Naeema is my second eldest child, she has an older brother who is 15, a younger sister who is 12 and her little brother who is seven. Their Mummy died in 2015, when my youngest son was four months old, so I have had to raise them on my own. It’s really hard as a lone parent, but the pandemic made things even tougher. I was thinking all the time about if I died, what would happen to my children.”

“I think like other families we found the pandemic hard; it was especially hard for the children to understand they couldn’t go out with their friends. We had support from their schools with meal vouchers and someone delivered vegetables. I did whatever I could to get food for the children.”

“It was the middle of June 2020 when the pandemic was the scariest part for me, it affected my emotional and mental health, and wellbeing. The news was overwhelming the BBC, CNN, every channel I turned to said a different thing about the pandemic and what you should do. Every single channel people in the country were dying, people all over the world. Because we didn’t know then about the vaccine and I thought it was going to be like this for years and years to come. My children had been doing their school at home and studying online always asking ‘Daddy, why can’t we go out?’, ‘Why can’t we go to school?’. They liked the routine of school and were less focused from home, joining lessons late, I struggled to get all four of them online at the right times.”

“Naeema’s many appointments had all been set back or cancelled because they cannot be completed on a computer. And my younger daughter was diagnosed with arthritis and needed injections, so when they were cancelled her knee became inflamed.”

“And then one day I ran out of toilet tissue. I had to leave the house to go to the shops. I went to a nearby store and joined the queue for an hour and a half. Some of the children were at home who were old enough and some in the car. I started feeling very sad. When I got in the shop everything was sold out, there were just some decomposed flowers. I started to have a panic attack. It just struck me so badly. When I calmed down the man in the shop did help me and I got home but I still felt very uncomfortable. I had feelings that I was going to die and there would be no one to look after the children. I locked myself in my room as I thought I needed to self-isolate and told the children to stay away. Indeed, I didn’t have covid, I was just so panicked. I spoke to the local mosque and they told me if I died the Imam would not be able to attend my funeral because no one was allowed to touch. So, I felt very, very scared.”

“I feel like I have to be strong for the children and do whatever I can to help them, but that time was so confusing for me. The children were able to adapt but I have been left with a lot of anxiety. I am still here and alive though, I got through it.”

How Family Fund helped

“We were fortunate enough to hear about Family Fund back in 2017 when they helped us with a laptop for Naeema. She had been using her Mummy’s old iPad and the children would argue when trying to share it. I thought, you know what I will try to get some help and we are still using the laptop today.”

“Then we got help with a dishwasher. Before, we had been in temporary accommodation but now we are in our adapted house the dishwasher is so helpful to my entire family. That year Family Fund also helped us with curtains for Naeema’s new bedroom.”

The family also received grants towards holidays through Take a Break Scotland, a short break fund administered on behalf of the Scottish Government by Family Fund. “We took a family holiday to Liverpool to visit some family friends. The children enjoyed it very much, so memorable that they talk about it all the time and I loved to see them so happy.”

“I am really grateful to the charities that have helped us in one way or another, but my number one charity is Family Fund.”

Taking part in the podcast

“I felt excited because it was my first time to be on a podcast. The key motivation for me was trying to reach out as I think the only way forward is to 'share'. I believe that sharing is the best cure for emotions. Families like mine have been through a lot during the recent years, but when you share your heart felt story, people understand that they are not alone.” 

“Meeting Christine and Paddy was the greatest honour. As I grow older, I tend to be become more introverted, mostly I listen more than I talk. But with Paddy and Christine all this has changed. They're a great couple, charismatic, sincere, very polite, empathetic, kind and easy to talk to.” 

“Christine and Paddy have done so much in their careers, but sharing the Table Talk podcast with disabled families was the most important project ever. I hope it has inspired and encouraged many to donate to Family Fund.”

“I hope it will help listeners to understand that whatever circumstances you may find yourself in try not to give up. There could be someone feeling exactly the same as you do. Stay strong. Share your worries or concerns with loved ones who you trusted the most. I believe you grow through what you go through.”