A Derry charity which works with adults with learning disabilities has purchased a local taxi firm, the ‘Journal’ can exclusively reveal.
Destined, a charitable organisation based in Great James Street, bought Derry Taxis in Glenbrook Terrace because of what it describes as “a serious lack of transport” for people with disabilities.
Destined received financial support from the Ulster Community Investment Trust (U.C.I.T.)
“We have helped more than 150 people with learning disabilities to become more independent and feel included in society,” said Destined Manager, Dermot O’Hara.
“Many of our members are now able to go out and socialise around the town like anyone else but we noticed when it came to transport for people with disabilities, Derry was found wanting.
“So we came up with the idea of buying a taxi company that could provide a service to both an already existing customer base and to people with disabilities,” added Mr. O’Hara.
Destined was formed in August, 2002 and since that time it has helped many adults with learning disabilities achieve goals that neither they or their families would have ever thought possible.
“In recent years two of our members have passed their full driving test and we have several members who have passed their driving theory test.
“We have given our members the skills they need for some of them to live independently, we have helped them to understand relationships and how to deal with the consequences of relationship breakdown - the whole purpose of Destined is to provide adults with learning disabilities with the skills they need to go out on their own. We believe the social enterprise we have entered into with Derry Taxis will have a positive impact not just on our members but on every disabled person in the city who has experienced difficulties accessing taxis.”
Destined will use the purchase of Derry Taxis as a way to provide some of its members with taxi driver and taxi dispatcher jobs.
As a result of the purchase, Destined will now be in a position to offer around the clock taxi access to people with disabilities. All current and future taxi drivers employed by Derry Taxis will be trained in disability awareness.
Destined will also be changing the Derry Taxis’ logo to one that includes the phrase ‘Derry Taxis - The Peoples’ Taxis - Promoting Social Inclusion.’
The charity is also looking into the possibility of purchasing two bespoke vehicles specifically designed for wheelchair users.
“People with mental and physical disabilities deserve to enjoy the same things as anyone else - this is precisely why we are doing this. It’s all about social inclusion and attempting to eradicate a sense of isolation that many people with disabilities experience.”
The U.C.I.T. helped Destined to finance the purchase of the local taxi business.
U.C.I.T. Associate Director, Phelim Sharvin, commended Destined and said the venture would reap unprecedented benefits.
“U.C.I.T. is supportive of Destined and we believe the purchase of the taxi business will have a positive social impact on Derry,” said Mr. Sharvin.
“I wish Destined and everyone else involved the very best of luck and the U.C.I.T. looks forward to working with our already existing groups and a few new ones in Derry in the future.”