A LOCAL father-of-three who became disabled following a construction accident at the Westlink three decades ago has welcomed a £3,300 grant for Shopmobility Lisburn from the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All programme.
Shopmobility Lisburn will use its grant to buy new scooters to allow local people with mobility problems lead independent lives, get round the city's shops and enjoy the everyday tasks people take for granted.
Wheelchair bound Jim O'Crowley broke his back 30 years ago and has used that time to change life dramatically for himself and others like him with Shopmobility
"The accident was horrendous but I had three children and wanted to give them as normal a life as possible so you have to go on — what else can you do?" he said. "We're programmed to just carry on as best we can, aren't we?" But it was only as he tried to lead a 'normal' life that he realised just how impossible that was.
"Back then access to shops and the town for people with mobility problems was all but impossible. People like me just sat in the house - that's when I got involved with local access groups," said Jim.
Shopmobility Lisburn grew from that and now over 3,000 people are registered to use its services based in Bow Street Mall, Sprucefield Shopping Centre and Lisburn Square.
"People can, come to us and use wheelchairs or scooters and it just gives them back a bit of independence. They can meet friends for a coffee or get themselves to the doctor, for instance," said Jim.
The local health trust also refers some patients to Shopmobility Lisburn - if they've had an accident and need to use a wheelchair for a few weeks they can borrow one of theirs.
Jim said: "It's crucial we keep our stock serviced and in full working order. We'll be using this money towards new scooters — they cost about £1,200 each which is just too much for most people to consider spending for themselves — that's why this funding is so important.'