Families call for improved disability provision

Luke enjoying a wheelchair swing in Portstewart.
Luke enjoying a wheelchair swing in Portstewart.

A group of local mothers have launched a campaign calling for improvements to be made to disabled facilities across the borough.

The three mothers from Newtownabbey; Morag Mullan, Tanya Wilson and Elaine McBride, have created a group on Facebook to highlight a number of disability issues in the region.

Since the group NI Parents for Change was launched on February 17, more than 1,000 people have joined.

Speaking to the Times, Morag, from Monkstown, said: “The reason for this group is to do our best along with all who join to make changes for our disabled children.

“Just taking them out to somewhere as simple as a park is either the most stressful experience for not only us as parents, but also the children. When we do get to the park there is no provision for the children.”

Morag added: “If we need to change nappies, most of our children are now too big to use baby changing tables. We either have to lie them on the floor or go back to the car and struggle to change them there - absolutely no dignity.”

Morag’s son Luke has Down Syndrome with severe leaning difficulties. He is also non-verbal and unable to walk.

One of the main issues her family has faced was during a trip to the V36 park in Newtownabbey.

Morag explained: “We had been excited to visit the V36 park when it opened. Sadly we were extremely disappointed to discover that there was no equipment that our disabled son could use. I was totally disgusted that a brand new park had not in this day and age of equality included any wheelchair accessible equipment.”

Commenting on the campaign, a spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “The council became aware of the NI Parents for Change group following recent publicity and has since made contact with the group.

“A meeting has been arranged next week, to better understand the parents’ concerns and to explore how the council can address these.”

The Times understands the meeting is set to take place on Wednesday, March 8.