Northern Ireland

Extra cash saves Fermanagh children's group

Joan O'Boyle
Image caption Joan O'Boyle whose son Colm has autism, said the scheme helps her whole family.

A scheme which helps families of children with learning difficulties in Fermanagh has been given more funding, just weeks before it was due to close.

Positive Futures in Lisnaskea provides opportunities for young people with special needs, as wells as supporting parents and siblings.

It has now been given £40,000 to continue until next March.

Families who use the Postitive Futures facility met in Lisnaskea on Tuesday night.

Many remain concerned about the future of the scheme and have accused government departments of targeting the most vulnerable as they try to make cuts in public spending.

Joan O'Boyle from Derrylin, whose son Colm has autism, said it helps her whole family.

'Adverse impact'

"What I would say to the trust is, you may not see this as an essential service but as Colm's mum and advocate, when I see the joy in his face when that car stops to take him swimming.

"On behalf of Colm O'Boyle, I would say to the trust, he sees this as an essential service for him," she added.

In a statement, the Health and Social Care Board said it acknowledged the valuable role played by Positive Futures in supporting children, many of whom have a complex disability.

It accepts that any rapid change to or cessation of the service could have an adverse impact on the children, and has opted to maintain its support for a further period.

The Board said it would continue to work actively with Positive Futures and all those with an interest in its role, to develop the most favourable arrangements for looking after children with learning disability.

Last month, summer schemes for special needs pupils across three education boards were cut from two weeks to one week - a decision which was later reversed.