Members of a once-weekly day centre that is an important social outlet for wheelchair users from Carrick-on-Suir and its hinterland fear its services face cutbacks later this year if more funding isn’t secured.
The Irish Wheelchair Association in Carrick-on-Suir is looking for new sources of funding to help it run the day resource and outreach centre for its members at the Nano Nagle Community Resource Centre and has appealed to local organisations and people to fundraise for the service.
The day resource and outreach centre was set up three years ago and runs every Friday from 11am to 3pm and often longer in the summer months.
It currently caters for nine IWA members ranging in ages from 38 to 65 and there is a waiting list of local wheelchair users who want to get involved in the social and educational activities it runs ranging from art and pottery to computer classes.
It’s understood the Wheelchair Association had plans to expand the day centre to two days a week to accommodate the people with disabilities on the waiting list but that is now on hold and exisiting day centre users fear significant cutbacks to the services are on the way if more funding isn’t found.
Josephine Hennessy, the Irish Wheelchair Association co-ordinator in Carrick-on-Suir, says the day centre has been run with the help of funding from a particular organisation over the past three years but this group is no longer in a position to continue with financially assisting the service.
On top of this, like all charitable and community organisations, the IWA has suffered HSE funding cutbacks.
“We are applying to different organisations and people to help us out. If anyone can run a fundraising night or donate money to helps us it would be much appreciated,” she said.
“We put on a lot of different programmes for our members and we don’t want to cut these programmes or reduce the quality of them.”
Josephine said they were already introducing minor cost cutting measures at the centre to ensure that as much of their funding as possible goes to maintaining the standard of the social activities they run for members.
Wheelchair user John O’Dwyer from Carrick-on-Suir is very worried about how funding cutbacks will impact on the day centre services and hopes local fundraising and donation or a new stream of funding will make up the shortfall.
“I think the day centre is a necessity because it gives people like me something to look forward to from one day to the next. A lot of those people mightn’t be out from one end of the week to the next.”
What John enjoys about the day centre most is the opportunity it provides to meet up with fellow wheelchair users for a cup of tea and chat and to share their experiences.
“Every Friday morning the first thing you look forward to is going down to the Nagle Centre and meeting everyone. We get our dinner supplied and have a bit of a laugh and joke. It would be a pity if all that stopped,” he said.
“I hope it won’t come to that but the way things are at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. All you can see is darkness because everything is being hit,” he added.
Irish Wheelchair Association spokesperson Sinead Foskin said the Association like every other agency has suffered funding cutbacks due to the economic climate. However, the IWA had not reduced any of its services and in fact had increased services.
She pointed out that no discussions have taken place in relation to any cutbacks to services at its Carrick-on-Suir day resource and outreach centre.
She confirmed there were no plans at the moment to extend the day resource and outreach centre to two days a week because the IWA simply didn’t have the capacity to do that this time.