Published: 16:35, 16 November 2020
| Updated: 09:25, 17 November 2020
A devoted dad who has only seen his disabled daughter once since March is begging to be allowed to hug her this Christmas.
But the arrival on the pandemic put paid to visitors being allowed on site leaving video calls as their main means of communication.
For non-verbal Charlotte who has a rare genetic disorder Rett syndrome, and relies on human contact, this has brought sadness and confusion.
She now hugs her iPad or a pillow her father made with his photo on, as well as listens to his recordings of her favourite David Walliams books to cope with the separation.
For Mr Martin, who cared for her until she was 18, it has caused an emotional void he is desperate to fill.
He is now urging the government to take swift action to rectify this situation for families ahead of the festive season by distributing rapid testing kits to all homes nationwide.
Following today's launch of a new pilot scheme in 20 care homes, he said: "Science has caught up and this is the turning point.
"We have the rapid testing. I think now is the time to give residents like Charlotte a really important part of their life back.
"We used to go swimming together, dance together and she's very light so I used to still be able to pick her up.
"Not being able to see or have human touch with her has left a huge hole in my life, a huge emotional void.
"I just want to be able to give her a hug this Christmas."
The pair were allowed to see each other in the home's garden in September but in full PPE and two metres apart.
He said: "The thing that's hardest is when she is upset.
"There was a time when Charlotte had injured herself and I just wanted to drive down and check her myself. I nearly did."
Mr Martin is dedicated to his daughter's development and continues to look for ways to improve her quality of life.
In 2018, he and other members of Charlotte's family clubbed together to purchase a £9,000 eye gaze equipment which transformed her communication skills allowing her to convey her feelings, and even choose her own clothes and activities.
During the pandemic, Mr Martin is grateful that these skills have been further developed.
He said: "There's been times when she's felt lost but there has been some positives. She can now communicate via FaceTime.
"Using pictures on the screen she said 'I love you'. It was the first time she's ever done that. I was a blubbering wreck.
"I'd say three calls out of five, she'll reach out and cuddle the iPad. It's beautiful.
"She was also able to tell me 'Come here' which is when I went to visit in September."
Speaking of the feeling of hugging his daughter again, he said: "I wouldn't need any other Christmas presents this year, that's for sure.
"It would also mean so much to Charlotte.
"I saw how excited she was when I was able to see her but not touch in September. We'd both be in tears."
Martha Trust, which cares for 36 people with profound disabilities, implemented its lockdown on March 15 and has experienced one outbreak of the virus affecting one resident and three members of staff.
All were asymptomatic and thanks to regular weekly testing, appropriate measures were taken and the situation was controlled.
Deputy chief executive and home manager Julie Gayler says the team has shown "a real Dunkirk spirit" in working together, taking on overtime and creating a new activities programmes with a large emphasis on communication with families.
Chief executive George White has joined Mr Martin in his plea for the rapid testing kits to be rolled out to all homes as quickly as possible.
He said: "Physical contact for our guys with profound difficulties is a really important thing.
"We would love to be issued with one and it would help us manage the situation even more effectively.
"It would also help families by reassuring them that they are not bringing Covid into the home."
MP for Deal and Dover, Natalie Elphicke, said: “Beating the virus isn’t just about pubs and clubs, it is also about making sure that Charlotte and Dad Brett and so many others can share hugs and be together again safely.
“Charlotte’s story brings home just how important the groundbreaking new vaccines will be.”