We told the Council in 2017 we could not afford to lose this community asset – This is why.
Because we pay for the losses – we pay in many ways – in costs of lost health and wellbeing – as well as heritage.
Health is Wealth.
If your journey through life has not thus far taught you that health is wealth, and how priceless health is, then you need to look at the cold hard facts and figures that show how very expensive it is for us to fail to care about the wellbeing of our community.
The report below on the mental health of children in England shows the true financial costs associated with failing to protect the health of our children and our community – with all that our public asset – Necarne can deliver.
We have already seen the bid by the regional GAA, Rugby Club, and Athletics clubs for Necarne. The bid represented an excellent joint cross-community initiative and was submitted into the Council’s Expressions of Interest process but like any community bid, it could not score because of the way the council wrote and scored the criteria. That bid should have been brought forward with all the other key interests as part of a Future Search process that matched the needs, and funding to Necarne’s multi-faceted unique historic and community asset.
We know there is a huge need for equine therapy for disabled children and adults, for those with mental health and many physical health challenges – (see Evidence of outcomes tab) we know that there are equestrian clubs with needs from pony clubs to riding clubs that need the public funded indoor arenas. Cyclists told us of their need for a centre of excellence with clubs for all ages, and many more groups had fantastic ideas about how they could come together – right down the group of young girls who came to one of our meetings to tell us how they wanted a place to do cross country obstacle agility course with their dogs. This is what good health looks like – not having this provision is expensive – and we pay for it via our taxes and in many other ways – the price of heartache and devastation – we all know the immeasurable cost of depression, anxiety and suicide.
Necarne is a huge health and wellbeing asset with the massive potential to increase protective factors via social and sporting and therapy for all in the region. Look at this report (linked below) to see how much it costs when we fail to care – we pay for it – its going to cost us a fortune if Necarne gets handed over to Euro Auctions
Now bearing the figures in the report above in mind then consider that reality in the extreme needs of Northern Ireland – this is a cumulative impact.
“Northern Ireland has the highest prevalence of mental illness in the UK,1 with the annual incidence of deaths by suicide doubling from 150 in 1998 to 318 deaths in 2015, which equates to a rate of around 16 deaths per 100 000 individuals per year.2 Psychiatric morbidity in Northern Ireland is 25% higher than in the UK, a legacy of more than 30 years of conflict (known as the Troubles), in which 3500 people died and 47 000 were seriously injured. In 2008, 39% of the population in Northern Ireland reported experiencing a traumatic event relating to the Troubles.1 A 2015 analysis3 indicated that both childhood adversities and trauma relating to the Northern Ireland conflict have a major role in the development of psychopathology.
The proportion of the health budget in Northern Ireland devoted to mental health is around 6%, which is half that of England. This low investment has led to underfunded psychological and mental health services and increasing waiting times. This legacy of increased psychopathology and under-resourced services is shown in our general practitioner prescribing rates for antidepressant medication, which are the highest in the UK, with worrying trends of increased prescribing to children and young people.”
The report above shows the horrendous realities in our community – this should be the first priority for any public asset – especially one with huge potential for health and well being – this should not just be for those who can afford to stay in the private holiday homes the Council hopes Euro Auctions to build – it needs to be life-enhancing and generating protective factors for our most vulnerable.
The article linked above shows us that we cannot look to our Government to care for our children’s needs. A video on our facebook page from a local mental health worker bears this true locally. Government is failing our young people especially those most in need. Our services are not meeting needs. Young people in Fermanagh who experience thoughts of suicide are waiting months for an assessment, then another 4-6 month for treatment. The article linked above shows how….
Children are going where most profit can be made from them.
A toxic blend of austerity and free-market orthodoxy has left them neglected where they should be nurtured; commodified instead of cared for. The most vulnerable are hit the hardest, placing enormous stress on families and robbing kids of their childhood and their future.
The more troubled children are, the more money companies get, and children go not where they most need to be, but where most profit can be made from them. One care worker described it as “legalised trafficking”. “Children are cattle,” she said. “They are there to fill a spot.”
Ultimately this costs us all. A quarter of those in prison or homeless have been through the care system. A study in Scotland found that pupils excluded from school at 12 are four times more likely than others to go to jail. Prison is not cheap
This practical harm is compounded by a more insidious psychic damage. In slashing funding for everything, we have ceased to understand the human value of anything. There are no league tables for fostering self-esteem, developing creativity or the love of learning. Our kids are worth more than this.
What Senator Robert Kennedy once said of the US’s gross national product holds true for our pretensions to balance budgets on the backs of the poor. “It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
It’s all about profit for private companies.
It has been our experience throughout this campaign that our Council knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. They are completely failing to recognise the links between the potential in the 228 acres and 80 stables Necarne funded to benefit the community, all the requests by groups to use it, all the evidence of needs, all the evidence of outcomes and the realities of extreme needs in our deeply divided post-conflict society with serious mental health issues. This publicly funded multi-million asset is needed and the community need to be in accountable control of it because the needs in our community are more important than any economic gains the Council and local business people hope to exploit from Necarne. £20,000 a year rent is less than the subsidies Euro Auctions can claim.
Please see the article above. Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, ended a two-week fact-finding mission to the UK with a stinging declaration that levels of child poverty were “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster”, even though the UK is the world’s fifth largest economy,
After visiting towns and cities including London, Oxford, Cardiff, Newcastle, Glasgow and Belfast, Alston said that “obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in food banks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the government to appoint a minister for suicide prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard-of levels of loneliness and isolation”
“I have also seen tremendous resilience, strength and generosity, with neighbours supporting one another, councils seeking creative solutions and charities stepping in to fill holes in government services,” he said.
On food banks, he said: “I was struck by how much their mobilisation resembled the sort of activity you might expect for a natural disaster or health epidemic.”
A common theme of the testimonies he heard was the impact on people’s mental health and feelings of loneliness and fear. “I was surprised by the talk of suicide, by the people I met who said they had considered suicide … There are some pretty serious mental health dimensions.”
In his book, Lost Connections Johann Hari shows how depression and anxiety are now at epidemic levels. But Why? Northern Ireland has the highest rates of prescription drug use Antidepressant prescription rates in Northern Ireland far exceeded those of England and Wales and were also higher than levels found in 23 countries featured in a global study which included Canada, Australia, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden.
“Nobody’s shouting from the rooftops, but depression is sitting under the sofa, gathering momentum.”
Across the world, scientists have uncovered evidence for nine different causes. Some are in our biology – but most are in the way we are living today.
This New York Times best-selling book – lauded by everyone from Oprah to Elton John – offers a radical new way of thinking about this crisis.
It shows that once we understand the real causes, we can turn to pioneering new solutions – ones that offer real hope
Click here to watch videos to show how important empowered communities and community connections are – in protecting our mental health and see a link to Lost Connections – the book.
There was clear recognition by the UN that creatives solutions by the community were vital.
There is also clear evidence in Johann’s book Lost Connections for the real need for people to combat depression by coming together in an empowered connected social enterprise – to reconnect – and in our post-conflict deeply divided society – we need this in Northern Ireland more than anywhere else in the world – and Necarne is the perfect place for this to happen in this region, in a perfect collaboration of sport, therapy and events.
WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO NAME AND UNDERSTAND THE INVISIBLE IDEOLOGY THAT IS IMPACTING OUR LIVES AND OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE.
OUR HOSPITAL AND GP SERVICE IS NOT HEALTH CARE – IT IS SICK CARE – NECARNE IS HEALTH CARE – AND BOTH ARE BEING HEAVILY IMPACTED BY NEOLIBERALISM.
See the evidence for this in evidence of outcomes. We all know sport and exercise are vital and equine therapy is proven. We need this quality space to develop a health and wellbeing park – nutritionists even asked us for a place to grow food free from cancer-causing pesticides.
Wikipedia describes neoliberalism as the term most commonly used to refer to market-oriented reform policies such as “eliminating price controls, deregulating capital markets, lowering trade barriers” and reducing state influence on the economy, especially through privatization and austerity. It’s important that we understand the bigger forces that are influencing moves in our community – because it is us, our families, our neighbours and friends that ultimately pay the price for Neoliberalism.
Learn more about Neoliberalism and how it’s playing out in our community in the article linked below …learn how it is reshaping our lives, shifting the power away from democracy in government and into the hands of the super-rich, it says public services should be privatised. The results are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now. As neoliberalism evolved monopoly power is seen as a reward for efficiency. Neoliberal policies are imposed on us often without our awareness or our democratic consent. It has meant government policies that resulted in massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, and outsourcing and competition in public services. The ‘freedom’ that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows. The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to the government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel.
As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, the neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle.
This is what is happening in Necarne. The Council engineered this outcome when it set criteria and scoring for the public health and heritage asset as highest rent, highest deposit and most assured financial package – criteria that a community empowered initiative could not meet but Euro Auctions could. The criteria designed privatisation of a public asset. Some FOI requests were refused because the Council said it needed to protect private investors! What should have been an important public consultation on disposal of a huge public asset became an information night with about 15 mins allowed in the two year process and a sham report by Council officals that no one objected and the 1000 plus petition objecting to the move was branded ‘unclear’. No clear written facts about the proposals were provided and the Council refused to show the public draft lease terms that would show them what protections there would be for the community and the castle. This results in huge losses for the community – not just in terms of accoutablity over the millions of public money and the multi million public asset, fairness, fair affordable access for all groups who need use, sending all the profits from the public asset to wealthy private shareholders, loss of the castle, and loss of priority for most vulnerable groups – those with disablities unable to afford the private rates proposed. But also our loss of our abliity as a community to use the asset to design and support initatives to solve real problems in our community – our division, our high levels of dependancy on antidepressants,high suicide rates etc that private shareholders dont care about. Private profit becomes the only priority. Our mental health, physical health, deep division, and high levels of disablity – which Necarne can help us deal with – will be lost.
THE PROCESS IS TOXIC – because it divides a community that should care about everyone into one where those who are set to benefit financially are happy to support the process – but those who are set to lose out, or recognise the needs of others are not. It requires those with money whose needs are met not to care about those in need who are being sidelined. One example in this situation is the businesses and projects set to benefit from the sell off and the walkers who are told (but not in writing when or where) they can walk being happy and so they stop caring about those with children who are disabled or adults with addiction and others in need of equine therapy. They stop caring about those in need of a roof over their heads and a safe place for their children to ride, or play their sport or do their activity in a better place. It requires those who are set to benefit in some way to stop asking questions about what will happen the castle or can we have anything in writing – the process is toxic because it requires people to stop caring about others or other important valued heritage.
THIS is Neoliberalism in action and we need to be able to name it and shame it.
Read more in..
How Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us. – Click for link to Article . the ideology at the root of all our problems. by George Monbiot. George illustrates how this works to bring
“the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump”.
This is where Necarne is headed. Unless we can wake up and start caring about everyone -who needs this public asset which means we need to start caring about each other.
The article from University of Ulster reports “A range of research has now shown that young people who live in areas where conflict had been intense are more likely to have emotional and mental health problems, even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; they are more likely to be victims of continuing violence; to be drawn into riot situations and at risk of being drawn into paramilitary activity.”
These are issues we do not talk about in our divided community but we need to. It seems at times that our community is kept divided by our politicians because it keeps the extremes in power. At election time they need to wind everyone up with fears and threats and stories from the past that drive people to vote for them in order to block ‘them uns’ ‘the other side’ We wonder if they really plan any future healing for our deeply divided communities. We believe that yet again this is something we need to do for ourselves and you guessed it – Necarne through sporting, therapeutic work and events and tourism is a perfect place – we ccan’tafford to let this massive public investment go.
We cannot look to our Government to heal our community – we must come together as a community and design our own solutions to our own challenges. In the decisive act of caring for each other and all our common health and wellbeing challenges, we can heal our community. We must start to care about others – the alternative is one more loss too many.
The report above quantifies the realities that go unspoken each day we live in Northern Ireland.
95 percent of social housing in Northern Ireland is segregated by religious affiliation
94 percent of the school population attends segregated education in a Catholic or Protestant nursery, primary or post-primary schools
Most of the children and youth involved in the research grew up in single-identity communities, were educated in Catholic or Protestant schools and attended youth provision (youth clubs, sporting associations, community-based programs) in their own communities. There were few opportunities, therefore, for cross-community contact. Younger children tended to have limited knowledge and experience of sectarianism, being “cocooned” within their own communities (see Roche 2008) with little opportunity to experience life outside it.
The fear and harassment experienced by some young people were so severe they felt imprisoned within areas that offered few opportunities. They were unable to access nearby youth and leisure facilities as these were in “the other community” or would involve them having to pass through “the other community”: “if you walk up yourself then you wouldn’t be seen comin’ back out” (Co. Fermanagh).
“we have to fight for our culture” (Co. Fermanagh, aged 16-25, Protestant/ Unionist community); “We’re fightin’ for our identity” (Co. Derry, aged 15-19, Catholic/ Nationalist community). The persistence of (and in some cases increases in) violence among young people in “post-conflict” Northern Ireland—sectarian violence, rioting, racist hate crimes, youth suicide—does not appear dissimilar to that reported in reunified Germany post-1990s (Kersten 2007). Our findings are consistent with Kersten’s research on the “absence of formal and informal social control mechanisms, agencies and routines” during periods of transition. Addressing a “crisis in postwar identity” in Germany, Kersten noted the popular classification of “others” as “the objects of hate and dehumanization” (Ibid., 217).
Based on negative perceptions and reactions, young people experience marginalization. Feared, shunned, and effectively excluded from community life and decisions, they often feel that they are neither wanted nor belong:
“People aren’t bothered with us. They just want us out of their area. But it’s our area as well. It’s not their place, we’ve been reared [brought up] here too”… (Co. Fermanagh).
Many recounted how they felt unloved and unwanted. In some cases this extended to feeling rejected by adults within their communities:
“They just hate us” (Co. Fermanagh).
“Many of those involved in paid and voluntary work have successfully challenged reductionist explanations of poverty and violence, raising awareness of the need for structural and institutional change to address the impacts of socio-economic inequalities and inter-community conflict. Their work and support is grounded in an ethos of community development which recognizes strengths within communities, respects and involves young people in decision-making processes, and challenges the “normalization” of violence”.
Again the report above talks about the essential work in the community by the community to call out for the need for change – We are calling out the need for change in this region and we can show how Necarne can be the change we need to see. We are calling for an open, inclusive Future Search process to bring all the needs together and develop a future for Necarne that keeps all the public investment working to meet the serious needs of all in the regional community – as it should.
We Wanna Be Safe Report – Young People in Fermanagh Need Safe Places – One of the largest surveys about Drug and Alcohol abuse in Young People in Fermanagh – showing how vital community solutions to community issues are.
In the future of Necarne – We must protect the needs of most vulnerable children and adults – the most silent, locked in autism or disability, the most unable to participate – as if anyone deserves the magic of Necarne, a sleigh or pony and trap ride through the grounds and up the magical castle – it surely belongs to them for all the millions of public funding spent.
We know Necarne is needed by many groups – the bid submitted and rejected by the Council by the largest sporting groups in the region – the GAA, Athletics and Rugby clubs is just a tip of the iceberg. We have read about the hockey club losing its base, and the running groups losing events space, the cycle groups being refused use of Necarne for major events – the needs of the larger groups are clear but there are many smaller groups and many afraid and unable to speak of their needs because they are so vulnerable.
There has been an effective community cleansing in Necarne – DARD lease terms said there should be full recreational use for the community in Necarne but the Council never enforced it. Community events were refused or limited, cycling events and others were barred, efforts to get the equestrian centre re-established with business plans presented to Council were not even acknowledged.
This action by the Council has done two things – created an illusion of desperation for something to happen at Necarne – making it seem that only a wealthy private developer can make anything happen (common practice in the lead up to privatising a public asset) When in reality if the Council welcomed openly all initiatives and needs for the public asset and facilitated for them to come together as they should … Necarne would be a very busy place indeed. Which would of course not suit any agenda to hand over to a private investor.
The Council’s actions of community cleansing groups from the estate created an attractive proposition for the private investor … that now in 2018 only current users need be accommodated – as is the current proposal by the council – narrowing need down to the local walkers who are most grateful – given the council are privatising their only recreation space, and having had their rights of way applications rejected by the Council, they are naturally supporting any proposal that allows them access even if it means the castle they love gets no assurance of restoration.
But it was not alone the ratepayers of Irvinestown that bought Necarne – it was all of Fermanagh – and the needs for this huge public asset and space are regional – not just confined to the local village and business people and local Council funded projects. It is not enough for the Council to placate local walkers with verbal assurances – and dismiss the horrendous realities which all in this region live with day by day. Realities for which evidence shows a large community project at Necarne could make serious progress at addressing. An open process professionally facilitated and unite and empower the community – bring people together and make a stronger way to tackle our issues together.
“Nobody’s shouting from the rooftops, but depression is sitting under the sofa, gathering momentum.”
Quote above from the report linked further up a document on NI being a world leader in prescription drugs for depression.
ADD onto all the stats and facts and figures Fermanagh’s unique location – the most remote county in the far west of NI bisected by Lough Erne, bordered mainly by southern counties, far from many vital hospital services and getting father as they are removed, GPs are disappearing, rurality, remoteness. and many unique challenges only Fermanagh knows. This unique isolation makes even more reason we must hold Necarne as a vital health asset- and we must start caring for each other.
The section below talks particularly about the equestrian and therapeutic needs aspect of Necarne – more information under – Evidence of Outcomes tab on this website.
We know and can provide solid EVIDENCE OF SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES from equine therapy for many hard to reach needs in our community – Necarne could provide support for many local needs that exist in Fermanagh and Tyrone, complimenting and adding to existing services, it could provide support for recovery for our community living within NI’s highest in world of PTSD, for drug or alcohol dependency, suicidal ideation, self harm, young people at risk of harm, depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, autism, sensory disorders, domestic violence, addictions, eating disorders, communication difficulties, bereavement, providing physical wellbeing and social skills, cerebral palsy, cerebral vascular accident (a stroke) development delay, down’s syndrome, learning or language disabilities, multiple sclerosis, personal injury (e.g. damage to the body/mind after an accident)
Fermanagh has the highest rates of learning disabilities in NI and in Western Area highest rates of ‘Children reported with a Disability’ and ‘Children reported with a Learning Disability’
Why is it Important? Children with disabilities are at risk of social and health inequalities. Disability is associated with social class. There is a higher incidence of children with disability in families where the parents have unskilled occupations compared to parents in skilled or managerial occupations. Having a disability also makes a child more vulnerable to socio-economic circumstances. They have an increased risk of being abused. Unless the social aspects of the disability are addressed, children potentially have poorer access to opportunities such as education, play, sport, social networks as well as access to services such as health.
See more about the profile of this community in which Necarne rests as a vital opportunity in this document disabled-children-fermanagh-doc-monitoring-2012
Fermanagh also has the highest rate for wheelchair adaptations in all of Northern Ireland
This is another indicator of the substantially higher needs of those with disabilities in Fermanagh.
It is common knowledge that 8 million a year has been stripped out of the budget for care and support of those with Learning Disabilities – each year for the last five years.
This group of invisible most vulnerable young people cannot be ignored repeatedly. Their carers are exhausted in their roles as carers without enough support. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, being forgotten and ignored. Equine therapy and RDA is in high demand by this group as it is so effective on so many levels. Not including a process to hear their needs, and ensure they are met, in relation to the future of our top equestrian facility adds insult to injury and is neglectful by our council.
It is also common knowledge and many reports document that autism services continue to fail those with autism in our community. There is also strong evidence for equine therapy and horse riding being very beneficial and popular with those on the autism spectrum. The council should ensure that there is adequate opportunity to hear from people with autism and ensure plans for the future of Necarne include plans for how an equine facility at Necarne could improve their quality of life and ease sensory integration issues.
NI as a whole has one of the highest rates of PTSD in the world following years of ‘the troubles’ as well as the trauma in families from the 1000s who have died by suicide’ there is strong evidence of equine therapy and horse riding being very beneficial to those with PTSD. NI including Fermanagh lacks a plan to deal with it’s past and an effective plan to heal division and trauma in its community. With the vast majority of our children and young people in segregated education and sport and community groups also mainly serrated there is a clear need for integrated sporting activity and horse riding and equine therapy is one of the few sporting activities that is not a single identity sport but works well on a cross-community basis and as such the Council should be fully supporting equestrian sport to be open and inclusively operated at Necarne.
Not only does Fermanagh have high rates of disabilities in its community but also it is the most remote county with poor transport links – further disadvantaging those with disabilities. Fermanagh is bi-sected by lakes creating more rurally isolated environments for those already made vulnerable with disabilities. It is therefore critically important that the council considers these invisible vulnerable people when planning services.
These are just a couple of sample statistics that show an undeniable needs for young people with disabilities and learning disabilities. Where there have been high rates of young people with disabilities there are inevitably adults with learning disabilities. Many of these are in need of the physical and psychological benefits of equine therapy and horse riding.
21% of people in the local area have a long term health problem or disability
FO Council say they will “Provide opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to enjoy sporting activities”.
In the western board area the highest rate of children with disabilities is in Fermanagh
You can read case studies from the RDA here
Given the clear needs in Fermanagh from our disabled children and adults, it is essential that Necarne is made available ASAP to those in most need in our community.
Vital Aspects missing from the Councils Consideration of the future of this venue.
Young People in Need
Necarne has huge facilities which are badly needed as so many young people across the county in small riding clubs are out in cold and wet conditions when this council-owned facilities lie empty.
( For example; a riding centre in Lack, experiences a large demand from surrounding areas for children wanting to ride and work with horses. All these children getting soaking wet and freezing cold whilst Necarne lies empty and the riding instructor’s pleas to use space to get roof over their head have been ignored by council. An enthusiastic teacher of young people, this teacher is keen to share and work together with others to make a project happen. Often lessons and events the children are keen to attend and participate in have to be cancelled due to the weather. Local facilities cannot meet local needs. Children can’t learn when they are cold and wet and it’s also a child protection issue – children’s basic needs to be warm and dry need to be met in our community. The health and well being of children in our local area must be a priority our council cannot ignore. Local children and young people need a riding school in Necarne Castle.
Riding for the Disabled. (RDA) (Most Urgent and Most in Need Group)
CAFRE college have an indoor arena a the college but their priority, understandably is their student’s needs. The RDA are extremely grateful to get a roof over their head at CAFRE. However, the fact is that they are the only UK club where they as volunteers have to bring their own horses for children to use. RDA need quiet well ridden aged ponies normally found in a riding school – not the prize-winning eventers and racehorses used by experienced riders in CAFRE. Volunteers with limited time have to bring their own ponies for those with disabilities to ride – often they are not available or weather curtails leaving children disappointed. Other RDA centres are run at riding centres where the children can do all the grooming and tacking up and care and riding – without time or facility limits. There are no suitable or available stables or horses at CAFRE for disabled young people to work with horses, grooming and tacking up in the stables etc before they enter the arena to ride. They have a lot of needs which they currently cannot meet as they are not part of a riding school base – as there is no facility currently open to them in Fermanagh because they cannot access the stables and arenas at Necarne. The RDA gets calls from doctors and health receptionists for not just learning disabled, but mental health workers and also regarding those with physical disabilities, but the small team of volunteers can’t meet the needs. There are many outside of special school provision who need RDA but they can only do 1 ride from Willowbridge special school – as the education bus company cut backs mean only one bus trip to RDA – and one ride for community – as volunteers have limited time and have to use their own ponies, bringing all their own horses and equipment. Local doctors and physiotherapists are increasing recognition that horse care and riding has huge benefits both physically and psychologically, for many issues such as those with cerebral palsy etc – but they cannot meet needs. If all the empty stables at Necarne had ponies in them that were regularly used in riding schools so were therefore safe and well used to handling – it would help RDA meet the needs of our most vulnerable young people and adults in our community. Necarne facility could help bring groups together to work together to meet needs.
The fact is that Omagh RDA are flat out seven days a week, from morning to night providing for local needs- but in Fermanagh where needs are highest in western area with highest number of disabled children and adults – the RDA and equine therapy is at its lowest provision.
There is no riding for the disabled special olympics club in Fermanagh – this is a hugely valuable life-enhancing provision for disabled young people. The nearest option is in Omagh at Omagh RDA but facilities there are extremely limited, they are oversubscribed and there are transport restrictions from WELB. People with disabilities need local access to local activities they should not be disadvantaged by having to travel when one of NI’s top equestrian facilities lies empty and is accessible in our local community – in the face of so much local need as evidenced by statistics.
Wider Community Needs
Other groups who need to be facilitated in having their say about what happens to the estate.
There are many groups addressing health and social need in the county, many of those are concerned with mental health and wellbeing could benefit from this facility allowing for equine therapy – a proven benefit to many. It’s not just mental health but also physical health benefits, those recovering from trauma and PTSD, children with learning disabilities and autism but also those needing occupational health therapy that could benefit from use of an open equine facility at Necarne. There are many existing needs which are not part of the current council process, and will not be scored in the tender assessments, or in the consideration of the future of the Necarne facility. Elected representatives need to find a way to ensure local needs are met in future plans for Necarne.
Other local and regional gaps which Necarne as an equestrian facility could address:
There is no special Olympics riding club facility in Fermanagh, there are many young people with disabilities in Fermanagh who would love to take part in this training and opportunity but there is no facility which can cater for this – the nearest is in Omagh but this is too far for the young people and their families or carers to be able to attend regularly.
There is no access to BHS (British Horse Society) training facilities in the entire region – only Belfast or Dublin provide training and examination bases. The BHS provides the best and most internationally recognised exams in the world. These popular courses and exams greatly assist rider development and the industry, but neither training nor exams are provided in this region.
We have an Equine college locally and Necarne is a top facility but there is little opportunity to develop equine employment opportunities locally so we are losing all young people trained at CAFRE in equine management to other areas or abroad. Necarne must be developed and retained as an equestrian facility and elected representatives must now represent the needs of the community to ensure, after millions spent creating this top equestrian facility, it remains as an equestrian facility that the community can avail off.
Locally in Fermanagh for riders, leisure and competition in Fermanagh provision is virtually non-existent. The Riding Club, the Pony Club the RDA and other training for young people have been barred from Necarne. Applications made to establish equestrian provision at Necarne have been refused by Council officials.
There has been an effective community cleansing in Necarne – DARD lease terms said there should be full recreational use for the community in Necarne – but community events were refused, cycling events and others were refused, efforts to get the equestrian centre re-established were refused. Now we must ensure all needs are protected in the future of Necarne.