In Tuam this week, Irish Wheelchair Association launched a national housing roadshow, Think Housing, Build Accessible calling for urgent national action to tackle the acute and growing shortage of wheelchair liveable homes across Ireland.

Think Housing Build Accessible is supported by twelve organisations from across the disability sector in Ireland. The information morning at the Irish Wheelchair Association, Tuam, Community Centre had a large turnout including Minister Anne Rabbitte and TD Ciaran Cannon.

Speakers at the event were disabled people with the lived experience of living in unsuitable unsafe homes and some waiting ten or more years waiting for social housing.
Speaking at the event campaign lead and national access programme manager Rosaleen Lally said: 
“The 2021 Ombudsman Report, Wasted Lives, noted that there were 1300 under 65s living in nursing homes, and many of these people cannot move to independent living because there is no wheelchair accessible accommodation in communities across Ireland.”

“We are calling on the Irish Government to amend Ireland’s building regulations to raise accessibility standards for homes being built in Ireland. Wheelchair users should be able to access and use every area of their home from the wardrobe to the cooker to the bedroom. Planning regulations in Ireland need to be updated to reflect our population.” 

“I know of an IWA member, Ann who lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her family. Because of the inaccessibility of her home, she cannot reach the cooker to make food for her family and she cannot tuck her children into bed. In 2022 this is not an acceptable standard of living.”   

Back Row L-R Lisa Fenwick (Disability Federation Ireland) Chloe Furey (IWA member) Julian Mahady national housing and property manager IWA, Ciaran Connan TD Galway East, Minister Anne Rabbitte, Rosaleen Lally national sccess programme manager IWA, Brian Condon, national property projects manager, IWA.
Front L – R Eileen Gormley, IWA member, Joan Carthy national advocacy programme manager IWA, Shane Brenan IWA member, Ciara D’Eoth IWA member, Abby Smith IWA member.

Eileen Gormley, a wheelchair user from Galway spoke at the event in Tuam about her dream of one day being able to live independently, Eileen is currently in a care setting and while she appreciates the supports she receives she longs for the day she can have her own place, have the comfort of being able to do her own cooking and washing and have the silence that comes with a place of her own.

Shane Brennan (pictured) also spoke about his goal of having the independence of his own home, he is on the social housing list but there are no suitable wheelchair liveable houses available.

Chloe Furey (pictured) lives with a visual impairment and was so passionate when telling her experience of wanting to live independently and the assistive technology which could give her renewed independence.

On a positive note, Ciara D’Eoth (pictured) shared her experience of having a wheelchair liveable home in Galway through Irish Wheelchair Association and how this has impacted so positively on every part of her life and that of her families, she said “it is not easy but keep going keep fighting, it will be worth it in the end”.

Joan Carthy, National Advocacy manager with Irish wheelchair Association also spoke at the event: “This Government has a public sector duty to deliver on the rights of disabled people to live in the community with choices equal to others.”

Minister Anne Rabbitte attended the session and gave her support in relation to the need for amending the Building Regulations in order to provide for wheelchair liveable housing for disabled people. TD Ciaran Cannon also attended and addressed the session, giving his full support to the call for a review of the Building Regulations and he commended the positive work of IWA both on a local and national level.