Sinn Féin MLA Áine Murphy has urged Health Minister Robin Swann and Western Health and Social Care Trust Chief Executive Neil Guckian to fund the Brighter Futures project.

Miss Murphy revealed that she has written to both Mr. Swann and Mr. Guckian "to urge them to continue to fund this much-needed service for struggling children with additional needs and their families".  

Impartial Reporter: Concerned parents Stacey McManus, Donna Murphy with Erin, Charlene Mullan and Brigid Melarkey.

The Brighter Futures Project supports children up to 12 years of age with a disability and their families in Fermanagh, but funding for the service will end on March 31.

Parents from across the local area have referred to the service facilitated by the charity Positive Futures as "a lifeline".

Impartial Reporter: Aine Murphy MLA

Miss Murphy stated: “The recent news that funding for the Brighter Futures Project in Fermanagh will stop at the end of March is very concerning. Understandably, many parents are anxious about the future of services for children with disabilities.

“The project, facilitated by Positive Futures, has provided children from 0-12 years, who have various disabilities, with an outlet to develop their social and developmental skills. There are no other wraparound support services like this for parents in Fermanagh.

“Initially, National Lottery funding was secured for three years, with the Department of Health and Western Health and Social Care Trust funding the last two years after National Lottery funding ended.”

Highlighting the positive outcomes of the service, Miss Murphy said: “This service has been a much-needed lifeline for many families in Fermanagh. The independent evaluation of the programme carried out by Ulster University, clearly demonstrated the very positive outcomes for children and families. The Department of Health has also acknowledged these outcomes, including a recommendation that this model should be extended throughout the north.

“The Children and Young People’s Strategy has identified services like the Brighter Futures Project as the preferred model going forward. The number of children with a disability requiring additional support is increasing because families are no longer able to cope. It therefore seems counter-intuitive not to make funding available. Rather than supporting services which at their heart are about prevention, there continues to be a focus on crisis interventions.”