The mother of a 10 year-old Derry boy with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.) said she felt “abandoned” when she was told the support provider she has been using will close next week.
The Phoenix Project is based in Coleraine and they are the only group that offers free help and support to families and children living with A.D.H.D.
Danielle Fitzpatrick’s son Brooklyn was due to start receiving help and support from the Phoenix Project this coming September but with the news that the service will close on April 29 she said she does not know where to turn.
“When Brooklyn was referred to the Phoenix Project we were delighted because it meant that he would get to meet children just like him - he would no longer feel isolated,” said Danielle.
“Brooklyn has no sense of danger so he needs constant supervision and that can be frustrating for him. I can’t let him do a lot of things children his age do. I thought that with the help of the Phoenix Project we would soon start to make progress,” she added.
Brooklyn is a pupil at St. Eugene’s Primary School in Derry. Mum Danielle said she wanted to do everything in her power before agreeing to treat Brooklyn’s A.D.H.D. with medication.
“The Phoenix Project was to be that first step - it was to be the first step away from having to put Brooklyn on medication. I want my child to have the same opportunities and as happy a childhood as possible but it seems that unless you are prepared to put your child on medication there is no help out there for children with A.D.H.D. - I feel completely abandoned.
“The staff at the Phoenix Project have been absolutely amazing with my family. Being a parent of a child with A.D.H.D. can be difficult but the staff at the Phoenix Project are always at the end of a phone call if I ever need a shoulder to lean on but that all disappears next week - I just wish people with power will do the right thing.”
S.D.L.P. Leader, Colum Eastwood, who recently visited the Phoenix Project, called on the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (N.H.S.C.T.) to meet with Phoenix Project representatives to discuss how to keep the service open as a matter of urgency.
“Parents have spoken to me about the stigma and isolation they felt before they accessed Phoenix. As a parent I cannot imagine having to accept the same reality for my daughter. I would find it even harder to accept that our government are willing to allow her only support service to close.
“The Phoenix Project provide invaluable services and facilities for families living with A.D.H.D. They are a driving force in creating awareness of the condition and giving advice to parents. They receive referrals from as far away as Lisburn and have received endorsements the from professionals within the PSNI, Education Authorities and Northern Health Trust who paid tribute to the “extremely valuable” service they provide.
“Phoenix need an urgent and decisive intervention from all parties who recognise that their work is invaluable and one that these families cannot do without. I have heard the Northern Trust have agreed to meet Phoenix representatives in May after they will be forced to close their doors,” said Mr. Eastwood.
“The Health Trust and Education Authorities, who have used Phoenix to shore up their own provision, must meet with them immediately and arrange emergency funding until a more permanent solution can be arranged. Time is not a luxury these children can afford,” he added.