ACUTE sensitivity often coincides with heightened perceptions, and that is why Ilkley resident Anna Prosser is raising money on behalf of a charity working with disabled children in India.

“I found out about it on the internet, about disabled children being left in plastic bags on a train because their parents couldn’t afford to look after them,” Anna explains.

This chance online encounter led Anna to travel to Kolkata (Calcutta) to help disabled children living on the streets and in slums – an ambition that astonished her father, Jon.

“Anna’s autistic, has learning difficulty and sensory integration disorder so India, with its full-on images, smells and sounds, was the last place on earth that I expected her to want to go to.”

In fact, Anna’s condition made her super-observant, often noticing details that others missed.

It was Anna, not her father, who saw that the sleeping child in the arms of a disabled beggar was drugged and being used as a ‘begging device’.

Other sights also shocked her deeply. "We went to the railway station and there were people just sleeping on the ground with nothing, not even a mattress,” she says. “Children sleep under cars and then get run over. And many of them have no mum and dad, no adults to look after them.”

Even while she was appalled at what she saw, Anna demonstrated a rare empathy, bonding easily with the people she met. “When I turn up, they always ask where Anna is – they’re not interested in me,” says Jon

These experiences made a strong impression so Anna is determined to help, not least because, she knows from her own experience just how much difference a helping hand can make.

After training with Outside the Box café in Ilkley for four years, Anna now has a paid part-time job in the café at the town's Booths supermarket and helps at the Tyler James pet shop on Leeds Road, Ilkley.

Since returning last year she has already raised £670 to help children who live on the streets through the Hope Foundation, which aims to protect these children from abuse and give them a chance of a better life.

This year the money she raises will go towards supporting two children: Jyoti and Riya.

Jyoti is just 18 months old, blind, and lives under a plastic sheet with her family next to a railway track. Riya, who might be seven or eight – she was abandoned as a baby, so no one knows – and has brittle bone disease and a learning disability.

Anna and Jon will be presenting a talk on the lives of children and adults who live on the streets of Kolkata who have disabilities on Thursday, February 8 at 7.30 pm at Clarke Foley Centre, Ilkley. Ilkley businesses have generously donated many premium prizes ranging from haircut vouchers to meals and wine. Tickets are £3 from Outside the Box Café, Ilkley.