THINGS are literally looking up at Goal Line Youth Centre, after a 10,000ft climb raised £8,000 to help keep the centre’s projects running.
The nine-hour walk up eight hills in the Mournes was successfully completed on Saturday by five men - Peter Thompson, chairman of Goal Line Youth Trust, his brother Bruce, friend Colin Fair, Johnny Betts, owner of the ONE Fitness Club at Portadown Rugby Cub, and Ian Flack, principal of Drumgor PS.
Mr Thompson’s wife Sheila and Mr Fair’s wife Heather also played their part, climbing Slieve Donard with the men, before leaving them to continue the trek.
Said Mr Thompson, “We always knew we were going to make it but it was a struggle, especially for older members of the group who suffered from tired legs.”
The goal had been to raise £10,000 and Mr Thompson is hopeful that the £8,000 collected so far will rise once more money comes in.
He added, “The response to the climb was fantastic, and youth club members and their parents also raised around £5,000 through various other fundraising events.
“Our immediate objective was to make sure we raised enough to keep the group going for three to four months, until we got core funding established. We now have enough to keep the project running until the end of February.”
There have also been promises of more funding from the Southern Education and Library Board and, possibly, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, after a successful meeting in November organised by MP David Simpson.
Goal Line, which runs projects for disabled and able-bodied children and young people, announced in September that it would have to close due to funding difficulties. However, after an outcry from parents, a campaign was started to keep the centre going.
Said Mr Thompson, “Following the meeting, the SELB have increased their funding while the health trust will hopefully give us some interim funding.”
MP David Simpson said he was pleased there was now “clear direction from both statutory agencies for additional financial assistance to see Goal Line through the next number of months”.
He said, “The trust has offered to consider financial support that will allow the current provision to continue until the end of March. Meanwhile the SELB have carried out a full review and the intention is to double the youth part time leadership establishment. The time afforded to Goal Line will allow the ongoing work to continue to secure core funding.
“I want to take the opportunity to thank both statutory agencies for their prompt offer of assistance. Goal Line is delivering a unique service to vulnerable children and I will continue to work with the parents and the trustees to see that Goal Line once again reaches its full potential.”
Carla Lockhart, Mayor of Craigavon said, “I have been touched by the Goal Line story and upon hearing the news of closure gave a very clear commitment that I would fight their corner and endeavour to secure additional funding. I am glad that has come to fruition.
“...I believe in the Goal Line project and the benefits it brings to the children and young people that use it.”
A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said it had agreed “to consider providing short-term support to help Goal Line secure the organisation until the end of this financial year and have offered them additional advice on their long-term sustainability”.