Appeal issued by Milford & District Resource Centre
People with Multiple Sclerosis in the Milford area are urgently seeking a permanent transport solution to access their support group.
The Swilly-Mulroy MS Support Group has a number of wheelchair users who have been unable to attend the weekly support group recently due to a lack of funding for accessible transport.
Milford & District Resource Centre have just made a donation of €1,200 from the Milford Development Fund towards transport costs for the group, but this donation will only bridge the gap temporarily until a more permanent transport solution can be secured.
Manager of Milford & District Resource Centre Declan Meehan said “The community sector do so much to try and provide services and support to people who need it most, to combat social isolation and to help people living with long-term illnesses. However, the constant challenge is transport for those with mobility needs or who are faced with unsuitable and inaccessible public transport. We need a long-term solution to this issue which is faced by all community groups and community healthcare providers in this area. This donation is a short-term fix for one group, but we need support to source a permanent resource, such as a mobility-friendly bus which can be shared between various community groups. I will be working on this in the coming weeks and months as the latest funding for this has been opened for applications under CLÁR funding.”
The Swilly-Mulroy MS Support Group is coordinated by Social Prescriber Lesley Newberry, who is based in the Milford & District Resource Centre: “This support group is a vital lifeline for those attending it, particularly for those whose mobility issues mean that this might be the only time they get out in the entire week. We are so thankful to Declan and MDRC for the donation to fix this problem for the coming weeks, but we really need investment in a shared mobility vehicle which can benefit all groups and all community organisations in the wider Milford-Fanad-Rosguill area.”
Michael McGinley from Carrigart is one of the wheelchair users who couldn’t attend the group in recent weeks due to the transportation issue. “I’m very grateful for the donation for transport. It was hard not being here, because when you’re used to doing something it’s hard when you can’t. Especially with the bad weather, you know you get depressed quicker, and then you’re not chatting to anyone.” he said. “Everyone has a bus pass, but then there’s no buses for wheelchair users here. Why can’t the wheelchair taxi take the pass?” he asked.
Amanda Doherty from Rathmullan also found it difficult knowing the group was on but she wasn’t able to attend. “You’d know it was on and you were stuck at home thinking about what you would be doing at that time and who you would be chatting to… It’s all about the socialising, rather than being stuck at home on your own.” she said. “The only people you see then are the home help. But I can come here, and a lot of the people are in the same position as me. I have this support group, and the IWA meeting on a Friday and other than that I’m stuck at home. I don’t get out.”
For many it is not just a support group, but a lifeline and a way to meet with others who understand what they are going through. For some it is their only social outing in a week. “I missed it surely. It’s somewhere to go on a Monday. The best thing about it is meeting people, it’s nice to meet people.” said Martin Casey from Kilmacrennan.
The group meet weekly on Mondays at the Presbyterian Church Hall in Milford. They are currently working on a 12-week art project funded by DLDC to create a large collaborative art piece with facilitator Bernadette Hopkins. The finished piece will then be displayed in the Community Health & Wellbeing Garden currently under development at Milford & District Resource Centre.
The Milford Development Fund, where this donation has come from, is a fund which holds the money made from the Rags to Riches Thrift Shop along with the profits of Community Business Services (the social enterprise of MDRC) together for the redistribution to community groups, projects and initiatives in the wider Milford area.