The chairman of Goal Line Youth Trust has reassured parents about changes to its YouthReach programme for disabled young people.
One parent had voiced her fears after the announcement that the ‘Tuesday night club’, as it is commonly called, is to stop catering for young people over the age of 18.
Enable has funding for one year only, so what happens after that?Tracey Gilliland
Instead, Goal Line has asked Enable NI, which works with people with learning disabilities, to deliver a programme for an 18-plus group every Wednesday night.
Peter Thompson, chairman of the Goal Line Youth Trust, said the change was a positive one which would enable the older members to remain in the same building and avail of its facilities, while opening up more places in the YouthReach group for children on a waiting list.
Tracey Gilliland, whose sons Jordan (21) and Luke (19) have severe physical and learning difficulties, said her sons need one-to-one attention which they receive at the YouthReach programme.
“I am worried that this will not be possible at the Enable group. I was one of the people who fought to keep Goal Line open two years ago and my boys have been going since they were 14 or 15.
“Enable has funding for one year only, so what happens after that? We were told years ago that the boys would be able to stay in the Tuesday club until they were 23 or 25 and now they have changed the criteria.”
However, parent Deirdre O’Neill whose son Ciaran turns 19 in May and also needs one-to-one attention, said she understood there has to be an upper age limit. “There is a waiting list for the younger ones,” she said.
“We will be sad to move on from Goal Line, and change is difficult, but it’s time to move on. I know Enable NI just have funding for a year, but a lot can happen in that time.”
Meanwhile parent Anthony McGrath whose son Stefan is 21, said there is a big demand for places in the club and change is inevitable. He added, “The real problem is the lack of services for young people with disabilities once they reach adult services.”
Nigel Hampton, project director of Enable NI, said he wished to alleviate any fears, and stressed that the one-to-one support on offer in YouthReach would be replicated in the new club.
A member of staff from YouthReach will also be working with Enable NI in the initial weeks to ease the transition.