Meningitis Now staff member Rachel Oakley

Abbie's COVID-19 Young Futures Fund award from Meningitis Now

Rachel Oakley | 10th September 2020

On Monday 29 June 2020, Meningitis Now launched our COVID-19 Young Futures Fund, emergency financial support for children and young people affected by meningitis. This was in response to clear concerns highlighted in our Keep Meningitis In Mind survey surrounding education, learning and development during the lockdown period

Abbie's COVID-19 Young Futures Fund award from Meningitis Now

The response was overwhelming, and we are delighted to have been able to help fund a number of electronics to assist with home-schooling, sensory toys and equipment to make up for cancelled therapy sessions, online training and tuition.

One family who have benefitted from the Fund is that of Gillian Marshall, whose daughter Abbie is under ongoing specialist care to help with her speech, after she contracted bacterial meningitis as a baby. Gillian tells us more.

“When Abbie was 13 days old she became ill with bacterial meningitis. With a long battle in hospital I am so proud to say I have a gorgeous fighting fit 7 year old. Abbie’s development is great. She has been through an awful journey.

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit it had a major effect on everyone’s life. But for my daughter Abbie it turned her young life upside down.

“Before lockdown, Abbie was in Primary 2. She was attending Speech Therapy lessons as well as swimming and dancing once a week, which she was loving and doing so well. Obviously this all stopped in March. I was home-schooling my two daughters as well as being a high school teacher and teaching seven different classes a day. We were all sharing a PC and my older daughter’s tablet.

Huge benefit

“When I saw on Facebook that Meningitis Now were offering an award which could assist children’s education I thought this was a great opportunity which would have a huge benefit to Abbie’s education.

“The application was very simple and easy to complete. I outlined the issues which had affected Abbie since lockdown and how her education and access to additional support was suffering. I explained that it was my hope to get Abbie a tablet, which would allow her to access reading book apps with audio availability. I also wanted apps which would develop her speech.

“Thankfully Meningitis Now supplied Abbie with an iPad, which has had huge benefits. We have got several educational apps which Abbie can use independently and take responsibility for her own learning. Her speech has also come on, both using the app and telling the family what she has been doing. It has really changed Abbie’s life and everyone in the family can see the benefit. We greatly appreciate this massive gesture towards Abbie’s learning from Meningitis Now.”

Our COVID-19 Young Futures Fund is now closed, but you can read more about it here. If you may be interested in applying for funding in the future, please contact our Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email