Three-month stay of execution is not good enough

FERMANAGH Community Transport (FCT) has been given a stay of execution of three months but it’s not enough warns manager Jason Donaghy.

As reported in the Herald last month, the FCT feared it only had weeks to survive when the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) only offered funding for one month instead of the usual year.

However, the DfI has now extended that funding until the end of June – however, Donaghy states it is merely a token offer and the FCT could cease to operate if it doesn’t receive a 12-month deal.


He said: “This is still not the solution. It doesn’t address the uncertainly for the elderly and disabled users of our service who are worried and concerned that we might not be around for them.

“The communication we’ve had with people tells us that the stress of not knowing what’s going to happen is leaving them very vulnerable.

“We’ve always known that this is a lifeline service. But the stories and conversations that we have been having have really brought that home as to what the service means to people and what would happen to them were we to fold.

“Not just those who benefit directly from what we do. Those carers and relatives might have to change their jobs or hours or even give up their jobs to care for a loved one 24 hours a day if we are no longer around.

“People would have to find extra money for taxis to get around. One woman told us that if our service was to stop, the cost of organising a taxi every day for her son which would cost £45-50 one-way for four days a week.

“So you are talking about £400-500 spent per week on taxis. Compare that to what her son would pay if using our service which would cost £6.50 per one-way journey. That works out at £52 per week.”

If year-long funding is not secured, then the FCT could see staff depart amidst the uncertainty – a scenario that has already unravelled.
Donaghy added: “The danger of this short-term funding is the stress that it puts on our own staff as well.


“Their sense of continuity and sense of security is threatened and it leaves us vulnerable to members of staff going to look for work elsewhere – which one person already has done.

“They were a really important member of the team and they came to me to say that in light of the uncertainty, they regretfully had to move on to another job.

“In a very tight and competitive labour market, we have struggled to recruit drivers. It’s a horrible situation and one that you wouldn’t wish on any organisation.”

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