Alderman Paul Porter, Billy Joe Beck RAMS, Lisburn Deputy Mayor Councillor Margaret Tolerton and Vivian McAloney in RAMS Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Dunmurry which was badly damaged during last week's flooding. US2612.111A0
A DERRIAGHY charity which had its base destroyed in last week's flooding will have to stay closed for up to six weeks.
Staff at RAMS - Race Against Multiple Sclerosis - had to turn clients away on Thursday morning when they opened the doors to find the unit submerged in two feet of water and raw sewage.
Staff rang frantically around to get some of their 100 clients re-booked into alternative therapy centres in Newry and Larne. Carpets and skirting boards will have to replaced and phones and computers were unworkable. The only room that was saved was the chamber where patients are offered hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
"We have a lot of clients, many new ones and some come as far as Donegal," said manager Billy Joe Beck. "We offered them other places in Newry and Lame but we are the only unit that offers other alternative methods. It will be a real set back for many of our MS sufferers and also for the children who come to us who have cerebral palsy.
"We don't get anything from the government. We rely on fund raising events and donations like those from the Fire Day on Saturday. We also get great help and support from local businesses like Lagan Valley Steels.
"We were supposed to close for the July fortnight but now the staff will have to give up our holidays to come and to help clean the place.
"We feel sorry for the patients who rely on our services," he said. "They are the ones who are missing out.
Mr Beck said that he was totally 'gobsmacked' when he went into the centre to open up on Thursday morning.
"It was very upsetting for clients who arrived. Some were crying. They felt sorry for us and we felt sorry for them as they could not use the services.
"Our main priority is to get the unit opened up again and get the computer and phones up and running."
Race Against Multiple Sclerosis (RAMS) was founded in 1985 by a group
of MS sufferers and their carers. Apart from therapy treatment, it was
considered important to provide a friendly drop-in centre so that
sufferers and their carers, families and friends could meet and help
RAMS also provides physiotherapy, vibrotherapy, electromagnetic stimulation therapy, massage, reflexology and advice on diet, nutrition and counselling.
Alderman Paul Porter visited the centre on Monday.
RAMS has close affiliation with the Lisburn Council," he said. "Just a few weeks ago I visited along with colleagues Stephen Martin and Roy Young to look at the running of RAMS and all its equipment. "This is devastating not only for the charity but those who have health issues who are helped by them. It is heart wrenching for patients, especially for children, who rely on a service that is so vital for them."