FUNDRAISING is beginning in earnest in an attempt to save Goal Line centre’s Youth Reach project from closure.
At a meeting on Tuesday night, it was agreed to try and raise the £10,000 needed to keep the project running from October 31, when the funding dries up, until January 31.
It is hoped that by that stage, some statutory funding will have been obtained to cover, or at least partly cover, the £60,000 needed annually to run the Chambers Park based organisation.
Parents of children, many of them with disabilities, who attend Goal Line say closing it “is not an option” as it is the only service of its kind in the area.
Two meetings have been organised in the coming days, one with the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) and the other with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT), to see what funding they can offer.
Meanwhile, Peter Thompson, chairman of the Goal Line trustees, all of whom work on a voluntary basis, is aiming to raise the first £10,000 needed by embarking on a ‘Ten Thousand Feet Challenge’.
Mr Thompson, a solicitor with Thompson Mitchell Solicitors in Portadown, will be walking from Slieve Muck to Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains, which will involve climbing eight mountains. The walk will take place some time in November.
Meanwhile, Thompson Mitchell are also taking part in Wills Month, when wills be written in exchange for a voluntary donation of at least £50, with all proceeds going to Goal Line Youth Trust.
Portadown parent Lyn Steele, whose 14-year-old son suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, said Tuesday night’s meeting had been positive, with parents pledging to keep the project going. She said, “When you have a child with special needs, you get used to having to fight for everything. My son is so happy when he is going to Goal LIne.
“We have to get something sorted out for the children’s sake. The parents will try to contribute as much money as they can and we are appealing for local businesses and individuals to donate whatever they can afford.”
Anthony McGrath, from Gilford, whose 18-year-old son suffers from autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has been one of the parent representatives at the recent meetings.
He said, “The meeting on Tuesday was extremely positive. It gave us hope but at the end of the day we still need to get the money in and that’s what we are trying to do. We will work on a month by month basis if that is what it takes.
“Initially there was anger and frustration from many of the parents because the announcement that the project could end was such a shock.
“Lives of children with autism revolve around routine and certainty and to lose Goal Line would be devastating.
“But we are where we are and the feeling is the trustees are totally committed, and so are the parents.”
MP David Simpson said, “I have been working behind the scenes with the statutory agencies to try and secure interim funding for Goal Line.
“We are all very committed to ensuring Goal Line doors remain open and I am encouraged by the support of everyone and I believe that a positive solution can be achieved.”
Anyone wishing to make a contribution should send it to Goal Line Youth Centre, Chambers Park, 287 Bridge Street, Portadown, Co Armagh, BT63 5AR, or to Thompson Mitchell solicitors, 12 Mandeville Street, Portadown.