During ‘crisis talks’ with politicians last week, a local after-schools club has been told that they have only secured a three-month emergency funding package to sustain their project.
On August 12, The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) confirmed to the Playzone workers that funding will be provided to the Ballymac Playzone Group for three months from September 2010.
A spokseperson from OFMDFM said: “This will allow the group additional time to consider its future service provision.”
Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle has hit out at the offer.
Mr Lyttle said: “I would appeal to the Executive to commit to the long-term funding of this project because of its importance to people in the area.
“The service meets the developmental needs of approximately 36 children, and allows parents to seek employment opportunities they otherwise would not have.
“We need answers for this project as a matter of urgency, and we need delivery from OFMDFM on a long term coordinated approach to funding for this important area of provision.”
DUP MLA Robin Newton welcomed the announcement. He said: “This project is situated in one of he most socially-deprived wards in Northern Ireland. The decision of the Department of Health to axe funding for this valuable and important scheme has caused great consternation and alarm throughout the community.
“In unveiling this funding package, what we are hoping to achieve is time |to allow the Ballymac Community Group to access additional funding streams, and do what is necessary as an organisation to keep their valuable work going.”
Last week, Alison Baxter, Ballymac project manager said: “We have been told |by the Department of |Health that they are not responsible for the policy of after schools projects — they say this lies with OFMDFM.”