A Fermanagh Community Transport (FCT) member has said that she doesn’t know what she would do if the “lifeline” service didn’t exist.

FCT is a charity service supported by the Department for Infrastructure that operates across all of County Fermanagh, providing accessible, affordable and efficient community transport to people who would otherwise be socially or rurally isolated. The core service FCT provides is ‘Dial-a-Lift,’ a door to door transport service where users are required to book at least three days in advance for scheduling purposes.

Operating as a members only organisation, Manager of FCT Jason Donaghy wanted to highlight that anyone living in a rural area of Fermanagh who doesn’t have access to a car or public transport can avail of the free FCT individual membership.

He said: “We want to introduce ourselves to the people that we know are out there that are really in need of transport and who perhaps haven’t heard of us or don’t think it’s relevant to them or applicable to them. But they are welcome, it’s genuinely for everybody who does not have access and if we can accommodate their journey, we will do that.”

He continued: “We can’t say we can accommodate all but we try and schedule and fill the vehicles so we can give as many people an opportunity within the hours which we operate.”

Mr. Donaghy added: “We have all sorts of people, we have young people travelling, we have mothers travelling, fathers travelling, we have people from all the backgrounds. We are a service for everyone.”

Janet Armstrong, who lives on the outskirts of Tempo, has been using the FCT ‘Dial-a-Lift’ service for her travel needs for many years. She said: “I’m out in a remote part here and I don’t drive and only for the service I would get nowhere. It’s very very good here.”

When asked how she would cope if the service didn’t exist, Mrs. Armstrong commented: “Oh I don’t know what I would do. I’ve often said that, I just don’t know what I would do because, as I say, I don’t drive and I’m out here, a couple of miles out of Tempo and it’s quite remote and my walking wouldn’t be the best either.” She added: “It’s a brilliant service, it really is.”

Mrs. Armstrong explained that she uses the service at least “twice a week” and uses it for transport to the hospital and “shopping on a Tuesday.”

She also noted that she has made “several friends” by meeting others who use the service. Commenting on the additional social aspect of the service, Mr. Donaghy said: “Someone who is isolated in their own home or isn’t getting out, isn’t getting companionship.” He continued: “One of the things that often comes back to us is that for many people, seeing the bus driver is the only person they might see in a long time. It’s someone for them to talk to. As well as meeting other people on the bus, even that can be a real reward and experience and important aspect in their life.”

“We are constantly hearing that it’s an absolute lifeline, without this service these folks wouldn’t get out,” Mr. Donaghy told The Impartial Reporter.