The collection of dry goods to assist people with disabilities may be hampered this year since the association responsible for the disabled has to seek an alternate venue to replace the Woods Centre as a collection point.
President of the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Persons with Disabilities (ABAPD), Bernard Warner told OBSERVER media that the body is banned from conducting any activity at that location, and he claimed that the decision was made in retaliation to what he deemed a successful demonstration on the premises in August, targeting able-bodied individuals.
He said that some time after that demonstration, the association sought permission from the management of the Centre to hold its annual Christmas food drive collection and it was told that it could not utilise the premises.
“The unfortunate situation is that we as an organisation is suspended from using the Woods Centre to do anything that is association related. We received that ban by the manager of Woods who said that persons complained following the demonstration,” Warner said.
He explained that every Christmas, the association presents food packages to over 200 people with disabilities, and this may not be possible this year because the association can no longer operate at one of its key collection locations.
According to Warner, this will severely impact the association’s effort.
“This year we may not be able to provide as much packages as we would often do because we are no longer able to use the Woods Centre to collect food items,” he said.
Warner is however hopeful that the Woods Centre management will reconsider its decision, saying “it’s
very sad and I hope that the manager will reconsider and give some thought to lifting the ban on the disability movement”.
Meanwhile, an official at the Woods Centre has downright refuted Warner’s claim. The official told OBSERVER media that the association was never banned from utilising the Woods Centre premises.
The official explained that permission to collect goods on the premises was not granted because of the increase in both mobile and foot traffic during the Christmas season.
“We have received numerous requests from different organisations seeking permission to hold activities of the same nature and they have all been denied,” the official stated.