Speaking during a debate at Stormont, Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has commended the work of teachers and classroom assistants working with children with special needs in Larne. He also praised the work of Acceptable Enterprises, and renewed his call for progress to be made on providing a hydrotherapy pool at Roddensvale Special School.
Mr Beggs described the Hydrotherapy Pool at Roddensvale as “A Shovel- ready project” which deserves the attention of the Stormont Executive, given the shelving of the A5 Road project.
The East Antrim MLA said:
“I commend the teachers and classroom assistants in all our schools in Larne, primary and secondary, for the work that they do in assisting children with special needs. I commend in particular those who work in Roddensvale special school, and the people of Larne universally appreciate their work. Anyone who visits the school cannot but be impressed by it and its welcoming nature. I notice that a recent inspection report states:
“In the areas inspected the quality of education is very good in this school, and the pastoral care is outstanding.”
So, everyone in the school — principal, teachers and support staff — must all be commended for the work that they are carrying out there.
One of the biggest outstanding issues in that school has been its attempts to get a hydrotherapy pool to benefit these most disadvantaged children. Planning permission was successfully obtained in October 2009. Funding was originally awarded, but it was ultimately lost as a result of a legal challenge. That detailed bit of work has been left in limbo ever since. So, I ask the Minister to find out whether funding can be made available to put that very worthwhile project in place for the benefit of these most disadvantaged children.
I notice that the A5 project has recently been cancelled, so Ministers are looking for shovel-ready projects. Minister, that is a shovel-ready project. It has planning permission, and it just needs the money. So, I ask you to take it back to the Executive so that you can ensure that some of our most disadvantaged children are helped.”
The Ulster Unionist MLA also spoke of the needs of adults with learning difficulties:
“Another important facility that is available and that must be commended is Acceptable Enterprises Larne, where a range of facilities and support are provided. Young people get involved in mop-making. They do valuable work on a subcontractal basis for companies such as Bombardier making Whale pumps. I know that they are developing a small cafe there, and they are hoping to develop a base-style drop-in centre for children with learning difficulties who are in those latter years. That is somewhere where they can take part in other useful activities and socialise. ..
One of the biggest concerns for parents of young people with special needs is knowing who will look after them in later life. We have Kilcreggan urban farms in Carrickfergus where there is activity, sheltered housing and a warden on-site to support such people. However, I have been contacted by a constituent living in Lisgarel Residential Home who is a vulnerable adult and who has been told that that supported living, along with the residential home, is under threat. It is essential that we ensure that there is valuable supported living for such vulnerable people in our community and that they are not put out of their homes and kept in the dark. We must ensure that they are looked after and cared for from the cradle to latter life. I ask the Minister to ensure that that happens.”