Calls for a solution have been made to help meet the long term funding needs of the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation in Donegal Town.
The centre which, since its establishment in 2006 has provided training and supports to service users with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities and their families, continues to rely almost exclusively on fundraising initiatives and donations from the public to sustain its services.
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said: “Since it was set up in 2006, the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation has been providing vital supports, training services and a number of practical programmes to children and young people with special needs and their families.
“The centre is run largely by a team of dedicated and hard working volunteers who deliver these programmes and services which aim to enhance the lives of service users by helping them to grow and to reach their full potential.
“Following a lobbying campaign earlier this year as well as ongoing representations which I made to the Minister on behalf of the Bluestack Committee, the centre was awarded a once off grant aid payment of some €36,000 from the HSE to enable it to continue its work right up to year end.
“While this funding was of course a welcome announcement and provided some much needed relief to the Bluestack Committee as it helped them to meet the immediate funding requirements of the facility, it’s now vital that a more long term solution is found.
“Having myself visited the centre along with my colleague Cllr Noel Jordan last spring, I am acutely aware of the great work being done by the centre and its volunteers to help transform and enhance the lives of children with disabilities and their families.
“Since then I have continued to raise this issue with the Minister, and following a meeting between the HSE and centre management which took place in July, an application for funding was submitted to the HSE for approval.
“Last week, I again sought an update from the Minister for Health in respect of this application and I have now been advised this week by the HSE that the centre’s application will be included as part of the estimates process for 2019.
“While a final decision in respect of the application has yet to be made, it’s crucial that both the Minister and the HSE make the necessary funding available to the Bluestack Foundation to sustain these important services into the future.
“I pledge to continue to work closely with the Bluestack Committee to ensure that the maximum pressure is put on the Minister and his officials to resolve this matter and to enable the facility to continue to carry out its work in transforming the lives of all its service users.”
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