As Christmas approaches, the Irish Wheelchair Association is asking local authorities across Ireland and businesses to keep their pathways and disability parking clear for shoppers in wheelchairs and their families. The association has made the call as it launches its Christmas Appeal, which supports youth clubs, bus services and social club activities for people with physical disabilities across Ireland.
According to Joan Carthy of Irish Wheelchair Association: “It’s great to see our towns and communities reopening again and so many of our members are keen to get out and about to restock after lockdown and get their Christmas shopping done. However, necessary Covid restrictions are forcing businesses outside and onto the streets, which is a cause for concern among people with physical disabilities. We are hearing about pathways and disabled parking spaces being adapted for seating, queuing and storage. For example, our members have encountered paths blocked by outdoor dining and disabled parking spaces covered by marques.”
A recent Irish Wheelchair Association survey found that 77% of people with physical disabilities have poor or no access to public spaces and amenities because of issues with pavements, parking, pedestrian crossings and more. “We understand that this is a particularly critical time for businesses, large and small, and that everyone is doing their best to recover, but we are asking local authorities across Ireland to ensure that changes to on-street trading to accommodate social distancing, aren’t excluding local shoppers who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities. We’re asking them to support local businesses that are trying to make up for lost time, so that they can provide optimum conditions for all customers when it comes to access. People with physical disabilities are consumers; they and their families have money to spend, and local authorities need to include them in their planning around Covid,” said Joan Carthy.
The Irish Wheelchair Association has launched its Christmas Fundraising Appeal, which supports its national services for people with physical disabilities through its 57 community centres and sports clubs. According to Joan Carthy: “The cost of running our wheelchair bus fleet is almost €1million annually. Without these buses many of our members wouldn’t be able to come into our centres and get the services they need. Our buses are a critical part of our work and our members rely heavily on them.”
“We appreciate the generous support we continue to receive from people and companies across Ireland despite the pandemic and all its challenges,” said Joan Carthy. “2020 has been a tough year for our members and we want to keep providing the services and supports they need now more than ever before. We are hopeful people will remember Irish Wheelchair Association this Christmas and support our youth groups and activity centres across Ireland in bringing support and friendship to thousands of people.”
To support Irish Wheelchair Association this Christmas visit www.iwa.ie/donate