Irish Wheelchair Association in Donegal needs more funding to deal with Covid-19

The IWA has had to change how it delivers its services in Donegal

Mary McGrenra from the Donegal branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association delivering an information pack to service user Bernie Porter in Killygordon

The Irish Wheelchair Association’s work in Donegal has been significantly impacted by Covid-19 and it requires significant additional funding to continue, the organisation in the county has said.
The charity delivers services across the county at facilities in Letterkenny, Gweedore, Carrigart, Malin and Donegal town to over 100 service users.
It also provides young adult services in Letterkenny and provides activities such as swimming sessions.
Since mid-March, the charity has increased its level of outreach services to clients from Malin to Bundoran and from Kincasslagh to Ballybofey.
Mary McGrenra, the service coordinator for community supports in Donegal, said the charity is still running only outreach services to provide clients with social contact.
“We have had buses going out to all areas, going to people’s homes. We could spend 30 minutes or an hour - bringing out home baking from our kitchen and we also have had sponsorship from companies and donations from the community to buy goodies and make sure people were getting the information and services they needed.
“We also have daily telephone contact with service users. Some have daily contact, some are every second day and some just twice a week depending on their needs and what they want. This service is very important at weekends.”
The outreach services and telephone contact have been vital in filling the gap left by the closure of the charity’s centres and providing breaks to family members who would have been used to the respite provided by the centres.
The services provided by the outreach are set to continue as the centres remain close and then reopen with smaller numbers. But the service users fear being left behind while the rest of society is getting back to normal life, Ms McGrenra said.
“In recent weeks with the lifting of the restrictions, our people are starting to feel more isolated. They are high risk. They see the rest of society moving on and they are not able to.
“They are not able to go to the centres yet and we are hopeful of a phased return. The centres will be very different when they do open. We will be restricted in numbers in the centres and in numbers on transport as well.”
The Irish Wheelchair Association teams in the county have been able to start to take service users out again in small numbers of two or three to parks, providing respite for families.

Funding need

Ms McGrenra said that before Coivd-19, charities were in need of an injection of funding to keep them in the black and the pandemic has increased that need.
“We are a charity so the big thing is our fundraising has completely stopped. Our church gate collection should have been in July but that is not happening.
“Charities have been using reserves to keep going since 2008,” she said.
“There is significant underfunding. Our national flag day is in October and we have to plan for it but it may happen, it may not. We are very reliant on people making donations and there are so many charities that it makes it very challenging.”
Anyone with a physical disability or family member seeking information or support can contact the IWA
074 91 77448 or Mary McGrenra on 0877448184 or at

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