A charity which helps adults and young people in the Roe Valley with learning disabilities has secured Big Lottery funding for a project they believe “will have a real positive impact on their local communities”.
Almost five years ago, Derry-based organisation, Destined, opened a centre in Feeny to provide a service for adults with learning disabilities living rurally.
“We quickly established ourselves as a key service provider in the learning disability sector with people coming from right across County Derry and Limavady to attend our programmes,” says Destine project manager, Charlene Keenan.
“It has become increasingly obvious during that time there is a real demand for children with learning disabilities living rurally, as well as the adult population, as Destined are contacted on a regular basis by parents who have a child who has just been diagnosed with a learning disability, or who are going through a diagnosis and simply are in desperate need of help and support.”
Thanks to the funding from Big Lottery Supporting Families Fund, the charity will deliver the ‘Destined Five Circles Project’ over the next five years.
Charlene says the main aim of the project is to support families of people with learning disabilities in the Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council areas by “enhancing access to local communities and services, increasing skill acquisition and learning through a person centred planning process and help to create strong and nurturing relationships”.
Destined plans to support 100 families of children up to 12 years of age who have a learning disability over a period of five years. The project will focus on families living in the rural areas of north County Derry. The project will be delivered by a partnership of organisations that includes Destined, Learmount Community Development Group Ltd, Rossmar Special School in Limavady and Western Health and Social Care Trust.
“This project is going to provide invaluable support to people who are amongst the most isolated and vulnerable in our society, and will have a real positive impact on their local communities. We have some really interesting activities lined up for the children through the Five Circles Project,” says Charlene. “Destined carried out extensive research in advance of securing this funding and results very clearly reflect the strong need for service provision for children with learning disabilities living rurally.”
Destined will work in partnership with Gortilea Social Farm CIC to offer hippotherapy to children participating on the Five Circles Project.
“Hippotherapy involves the use of horse riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, especially as a means of improving coordination, balance, and strength with many other benefits including improved confidence & self-esteem to name a few,” says Charlene.
“Clare McMonagle who is an Occupational Therapist with Gortilea Social Farm will be delivering the hippotherapy through the Five Circles Project and is the only person in Northern Ireland trained to deliver this Therapy.”
Five groups will benefit from the project.
“The Child/Children with a Learning Disability will be invited to attend weekly social and leisure activities aimed to increase their levels of confidence and self-esteem, and these will include many activities such as horticulture, cookery, arts and crafts, swimming, to name just a few,” says Charlene. “The project will establish a Parent/Carers group which will provide family support and training for parents in various areas. The group will also have access to different health professionals in the learning disability sector through information sessions provided. The project will establish a siblings group for people who have a brother or sister with a learning disability where they can meet with other people in a similar situation through different social activities that will be made available.”
The project will also have activities for the entire family to try something new and meet other families in the local area who are in a similar situation. Charlene said the project will implement a community disability awareness campaign and develop a programme of social activities to create opportunities for integration into mainstream community, adding: “There are no other projects like the Five Circles Project across Derry City and Strabane District Council, or Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council.”