Parents in Derry have finally won their long battle to have a day centre for young adults returned to the community.
After more than a year of campaigning the young adults’ day care facility which has been renamed the ‘Oak Tree’ centre has now opened at its new home in the Ráth Mór Community Enterprise Complex.
Previously the centre had been based at Greenhaw, however parents objected when it was moved to the Evergreen centre on the Gransha site, a move they claimed was akin to the “dark ages.” Parents also believed the Evergreen building was not fit for purpose.
At the time Western Trust chiefs said they could not afford a massive hike in rent charges at Greenhaw adding that the move to Gransha was temporary.
Local mother Yvonne McLaughlin who with a group of other parents and carers fought for the centre to be returned to the community thanked the many people who had spoken up for the young people.
“Our thanks has to go to Mark Durkan, Pol Callaghan from the SDLP and Sinn Fein’s Billy Page,” she said.
“I would also like to publicly thank Conal McFeely from Creggan Enterprises for the warm welcome and care that has been given. People have been coming and knocking on the door welcoming the kids. This centre is so much more accessible, has its own parking and is secure.
“Conal McFeely went the extra mile to ensure the centre was perfect. Oak Tree is beautiful and bright with big windows and loads of light. Since we came here the kids have been lifted, they are really excited.
“The staff are delighted too, they have always given the kids the greatest of care.”
Conal McFeely from Creggan Enterprises said the new centre marked “new beginnings and opportunities.”
He said: “We are delighted to be associated with this new day care facility for young adults with learning disabilities as we firmly believe that nothing lifts the morale of any group or individual to have a new facility that provides services which brings new opportunities for community health and well-being.
“The new Oak Tree Centre has plenty to offer its user group, families and carers and will help stimulate health and well-being and assist with skills acquisition.
“It will also provide the opportunity for the community to interface with the wider society thus breaking down barriers that prevent social inclusion.
‘SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan said “I am delighted that the families and carers of the Greenhaw centre have secured this excellent new facility from which the group can be based in future. It is great that staff, families and the young people themselves now have a new home and that this excellent group can continue with its quality programme of activities and care.”
Chairman of the Western Trust, Mr Gerard Guckian said: “I am delighted to mark the opening of the Oak Tree Centre.
“Significant effort and collaboration has been invested in establishing this new facility. Many individuals and groups have assisted us in the long journey it has taken to establish the service in its new location, not least, all of the clients who continued to attend the day care services during the period of temporary relocation.”
Oak Tree Centre Senior Day Care Worker, Ann O’Neill said: “All of the clients are really impressed by the new Oak Tree Centre facility and very excited about participating in all of the services we are now delivering from this central community location.”