The Irish Wheelchair Association are holding a “Back in 5” Parking Campaign in Tesco Shopping Centre, Longford town from 10am to 11am on Friday, June 8.
The Irish Wheelchair Association Day Centre in Kenagh will hold an Open Day in Kenagh Resource Centre on Friday, June 8 from 11.30am to 2pm.
In conjunction with this event they are also holding a “Back in 5” Parking Campaign in Tesco Shopping Centre, Longford town from 10am to 11am.
Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Junior Minister for OPW and Flood Relief, will be in attendance at both events.
The Irish Wheelchair Day Centre in Kenagh provides services and supports to people with disabilities living in towns and communities across Longford.
Since it opened its doors on February 17, 2000 the Centre has acted as a hub in the local community, a place where people can get advice, seek support and learn new skills by taking part in programmes, activities and social events that make a big difference to all members.
The IWA, in partnership with Longford Co Council are working together with volunteers and other disability organisations to run the 'Back In 5' parking campaign.
The campaign is based on the Lisbon Experiment in Portugal in 2014, which was a campaign designed to highlight the frustrations people with disabilities face on a daily basis when able-bodied people park their cars in wheelchair accessible spaces without a valid parking permit or reason to do so.
Each regular car space on the street has an empty wheelchair parked in it with a note pinned to the back with messages such as “Be back in 5 minutes”/ “just gone to the bank,” or “just running in for a coffee”.
These are throw away statements that people with disabilities encounter every day when people use accessible spaces that do not need to do so.
Martin Tarmey, Service coordinator IWA Kenagh, explained, “The rationale behind the campaign in Longford town is to draw attention to the abuse of accessible parking bays and to highlight the need for more accessible parking bays in the town centre.
“Accessible car spaces are located nearest to building entrances or lifts to make it convenient for people with limited mobility or those using wheelchairs to access services. It is important that these spaces are not abused in any way.”
Mr Tarmey outlined that press releases for the event have been prepared for local newspapers and radio stations. The IWA has invited TV3 and RTÉ news stations to cover the event.
He revealed, “To date TV3 have indicated they are interested in covering the event to help raise positive awareness of a community working together to highlight the issue.”
He said the IWA are acutely aware of the need for people to have parking and its impact on local business and service providers on Main Street.
Mr Tarmey concluded, “We also greatly appreciate the support of An Garda Síochana and Longford County Council Parking Department, the Longford County Council Access Officer Frank Horne.”