Monday 10 December 2018

Creating a social outlet for people with needs

Jessica Farry

With over 40 weekly service users, the Irish Wheelchair Association's Sligo centre is a hub of activity each week.

Raising awareness of the services offered by the centre is still vital, though, and new members are always welcome to join.

The centre operates every week, and service users can avail of services offered once, twice or as often as they want each week.

Members of the public were invited to an open day at the Sligo branch of the IWA, located in St. Anne's.

"We have three main services here that fall under the Irish Wheelchair Association umbrella," explained Jeanette Beirne, IWA Service Co-ordinator.

"We have the resource and outreach service, which is a day service.

"Then there's the driving school which is for people with disabilities.

"And we have the assisted living service which offers home support."

At the open day last week, the new bus was launched which was acquired through fundraising and the assistance of the national lottery and others.

Jeanette added: "With the open day we wanted to create an awareness of what the service offers, we wanted to enhance the membership and it also acts as a meet and greet.

"We wanted to tell people what we do and maybe get some new staff in as well and new service users."

Service users were given the opportunity to meet with those interested in joining, to give them a flavour of the impact that the IWA has had on their lives.

"It's a great social outlet for people and it provides them with services too. We also wanted to see maybe potential new members who wanted to find out more about what we do.

"We are partly funded by the HSE but we also have to fundraise ourselves. The national angel campaign is one of our biggest events each year.

"For people with physical disabilities this is great because they might not have transport to and from our centre so we can transport them. It's important to note that our services are not just for people in wheelchairs, we cater for people who have had strokes, spinal injuries and more.

"This allows people to make friends and see that they are not different to others. We go on lots of trips, outings and holidays."

Declan Duignan explained what the driving school offers.

"We do driving assessments maybe for someone who has been in an accident or maybe a doctor feels someone needs an assessment.

"We run lessons as well if needs be, we have a car with dual controls. People can also learn to drive from a wheelchair here. If someone wanted. We got a new car recently as well for that."

For more, check out the website on

Sligo Champion