Irish Wheelchair charity shop is open for business in Kingswood

By Maurice Garvey

THE Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) are well established in communities across Ireland for the last 60 years – supporting some 20,000 members via an extensive delivery of services, with the help of 2,300 staff and countless volunteers.

Surprisingly, the organisation’s first Dublin charity shop only opened this year in Tallaght.

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Paul Reck, Verona Doyle and Tomas McCluskey

No sooner had the premises opened in Kingswood - located opposite the Kingswood Lodge public house - when Covid-19 crashed the party, causing the closure of the store to the public.

Following a slight easing of restrictions, the Kingswood outlet reopened at the end of June with two full-time staff and a number of volunteers.

Open from Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, it is a modern style IWA charity shop, with plenty of floor space to allow for all the social distancing requirements and an array of good quality items for sale at bargain prices.

Despite the Covid-19 closure from March to the end of June, IWA members were kept busy, delivering PPE equipment for the HSE, and ensuring vulnerable services users were looked after in communities throughout the country.

“We have the second biggest bus fleet in Ireland, throughout the pandemic we became frontline workers,” said Paul Reck, Retail E-Commerce Manager with IWA.

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Noeline, Sophie, Brenda, Eszter and Bernie

“Some of our members are a bit isolated, we had PA’s (personal assistants) calling out to them. In the early stages of Covid, we put ourselves forward.

We delivered PPE for the HSE and also delivered testing. I was out myself driving around the country delivering PPE, and it is something we are still doing. We have 57 centres in Ireland and only started returning members last week.”

Kingswood is one of a chain of 16 IWA charity stores in Ireland.

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Bernie and Noeline examine some items

“We have opened five stores in the last two and a half years, but it is a constant battle to get funding, like it is for every organisation in the country,” said Paul.

“We can only take two people in the bus now instead of 10, and one of the two might be a PA, so we will be looking for funding for more buses.”

The Kingswood shop is well equipped to cater for customers and donations alike.

Paul continued: “It has everything from gents and ladies fashion, footwear, bric-a-brac, books, little gems, you never know what you’ll find.

Hopefully the word gets out about the shop but we are heading in the right direction now, and have lots of good staff and volunteers.

“Everything sold in the shop goes back into services for members. Items in the store are sorted, and recycled through another company, going to Africa and Pakistan. It has to be sustainable in that regard.

A friend of mine in Ethiopia saw a local man walking down the road wearing a Cork GAA jersey, and I saw myself an Old Bawn Community School top in the window of a Cork charity shop.”

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