Celebrating the announcement is Gilli McCready from George Best Belfast City Airport; Stroke Association service user, Joan Lyttle; and Sylvia Gillies, Stroke Association Speech & Language Therapy Assistant.
Stroke survivors in Belfast and North Down will now be able to make the often costly trips to their local Stroke Association support groups for free, thanks to funding from the George Best Belfast City Airport Community Fund.
Users of the charity’s weekly Communication Development programmes currently pay half of their travel expenses themselves, with the other half paid by the Stroke Association. The ‘Belfast City Airport Travel Scheme’ will ensure users will not have to pay any travel expenses for an entire year.
Tom Richardson, Director of Stroke Association Northern Ireland, said: “Our role is to help survivors manage the aftermath of a stroke and help them work towards rebuilding their lives.
“Part of this includes our communications development service which assists people coping with aphasia, a communication disability that is common after stroke.
“Aphasia affects people in different ways and can alter all areas of life such as buying a newspaper, family relationships or returning to work.
“Our three stage self management programme helps survivors to build confidence and practice communication exercises within a group environment. A typical session can involve reading stories from the daily newspapers out loud to discussing events that have occurred within the last week.
“These sessions are invaluable in making people feel comfortable when talking openly and provides the support necessary to achieve the best recovery possible.
“In the past, travelling to and from these sessions has been a real financial burden on survivors and their families, so we are delighted that through our partnership with George Best Belfast City Airport, the travel costs are fully covered for an entire year.
“We know how much this is going to benefit users in Belfast and North Down and will certainly help them along the long, slow road to recovery.”
Every year approximately four thousand people in Northern Ireland have a stroke. Some people will have a long period of recovery, including extensive rehabilitation, while many will never recover fully.
The airport’s Community Fund, which currently provides significant financial support to local charities, schools and community groups, recently announced it was expanding to projects across greater Belfast.
Gilli McCready, Communications Assistant at Belfast City Airport, said: “The Stroke Association is an inspirational charity, not only in helping and campaigning on behalf of people who have had a stroke, but also conducting research into improvements in current treatments and care.
“A major part of recovery for survivors after experiencing such a life changing event is the support they receive, but people often don’t think about the financial restraints that come with attending vital support sessions.
“To that end, we are delighted that service users in Belfast and North Down will now be able to attend sessions without having to worry about the costs of taxis and buses to and from the groups. This will certainly be a real weight of peoples’ shoulders as they work through their recovery.”
The George Best Belfast City Airport Community Fund sees the airport fine airlines for operating late flights and, since its inception in 2009, has provided more than £120,000 to community projects.
To find out more about the Stroke Association Northern Ireland, please visit www.stroke.org.uk
For more information on how to apply to the Belfast City Airport Community Fund, please contact: [email protected]