Friday, 21 June 2013


A family from St Ives is urging the local community to answer their call for old mobile phones – as part of a fundraising scheme aimed at equipping autistic children with iPads. 

Rachael and Andy Allen are calling on people to donate unwanted handsets, so that they can buy an iPad for their son Toby, who has autism and sensory processing disorder.

Toby, aged seven, struggles with communication and finds writing extremely difficult and often painful. This means that he is behind his classmates by about two years.

The scheme, run by autism charity Hearts & Minds Challenge, enables families to exchange old mobiles for iPads. Just 165 mobile phones will result in a brand new iPad, which will make a real difference to youngsters like Toby.

Childminder, Rachael, 40, said: “The Hearts & Minds iPad scheme is amazing, because it provides an excellent way for autistic children to communicate, learn and develop new skills. It also raises much-needed funds for the charity, so they can continue to help even more autistic children in the UK.

I’d like to encourage anyone, who may have old or unwanted mobiles lying around at home, to get in contact and help transform our son’s life – and the many other children just like him. Toby has had the chance to try out an iPad at school, and through doing so he has come on in leaps and bounds. As a result, he was able to access the same curriculum as his classmates. Toby finds maintaining friendships very difficult, but through an iPad, he could learn to communicate with his classmates through the apps that are available.”

Hearts & Minds Challenge is a charity dedicated to supporting children and families touched by autism. The organisation, which is supported by Mel Sykes, Keith Duffy and Paul Scholes, aims to raise the quality of life for individuals and their families affected by the disorder, by ensuring the provision of the highest standards in education, care and support.

To date, the charity’s fundraising activity has raised over £500,000 and has helped to educate and support many children and families.

Ian McGrath, founder of Hearts & Minds, said: “This scheme has already helped to transform the lives of families around the UK and we would like to see many more people benefit.

The therapeutic benefits of using interactive, easy-to-use technology, such as an iPad, have now been widely recognised and really can make a difference. I’d like to encourage everyone to donate any old phones to help support Toby and his family.”

If you have any unwanted mobile phones, please contact Rachael and Andy Allen via email at

If you would like to find out more about the charity, or the mobile phone scheme and how you may be able to get an iPad for a friend or loved one, please visit

What is it all for? 

Hearts & Minds Challenge is currently campaigning to raise £1 million, to fund an Autism Centre of Excellence in Manchester. The centre will initially school 25 pupils, aged three to 11. Comprehensive evaluations for each student will be carried out to identify their personal strengths and needs and bespoke programmes will be developed and tailored to each individual.

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