Dungiven’s community spirit is being called on this week to help a severly disabled local man.
Christopher Keeley from Dungiven has Down’s syndrome and suffers from epilepsy.
Mum Tiney says Christopher can’t do anything for himself, and can only walk very short distances. Most of the time, she says her 32-year-old son is wheel chair dependent.
“Christopher is happy, but he’s hard work. He can’t do anything for himself. He doesn’t talk and can’t wash or dress or feed himself. He has to wear splints on his arms to stop him hitting himself,” she said.
Tiney explained Christopher lost his sight in one eye because he repeatedly hit his head. She says he has to wear a protective helmet to preserve his sight, and keep him safe. The wheelchair at home is “just a basic chair”, says Tiney, with no head rest or controls.
“The wheelchair Christopher has is just hanging together,” says Tiney. “It’s just a basic wheelchair, but he really needs one that is more comfortable and suited to his needs.”
Tiney said she has enquired to the Western Trust about getting Christopher a modern wheelchair, but said it didn’t appear likely because he is still considered to be mobile.
A spokesperson from the Western Trust said: “Respecting patient/client confidentiality the Trust does not comment on individual cases.”
The spokesperson added if a client is identified as having difficulty with their mobility, they may be referred to the Occupational Therapy Service for assessment of their needs.
“Clients who meet this criteria and are eligible for wheelchair provision will be provided with a wheelchair which meets their functional and postural needs in conjunction with the needs of their carer’s and the environment in which the wheelchair will be used.”
However, Tiney said: “A new chair would make a big difference.”
In a bid to help Tiney and Christopher, Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGlinchey has organised a fundraising walk for tomorrow evening, starting with registration at 6.30pm from Eurospar.
“Everyone knows Tiney and Christopher. You see them around the town regularly. It’s obvious when you see Christopher’s wheelchair he needs a new one so, if the town can do anything to help I know people will,” said Colr. McGlinchey.
“I know times are tough, but any donation will help. Anything to improve Christopher’s life is appreciated, and I know the people of Dungiven always come together to help out.”