ADULTS with intellectual disabilities are being forced to miss Cope Foundation training initiatives this week because of the Bus Éireann strike action.
Marian Hennessy, a team leader at further education training facility, Doras on Penrose Wharf, which supports people with special needs in their search for employment, said only a quarter of her students were able to make classes this week.
Members of Doras, a COPE Foundation initiative for those between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, are just some of those suffering from the standoff between bus drivers and Bus Éireann.
Marian said: “We have people travelling from all parts of Cork, from Macroom to Youghal. Having a bus service is vital for promoting a sense of independence among students. Ever since the strike was announced we have been down numbers. Only a quarter of our students were able to make it in yesterday so a lot of people are missing out on the service.”
Marian spoke of one man who, after gaining employment through the centre, was unable to make his first day of work.
“One of our clients had secured a job in Ringaskiddy but can't make it to work. He has only just started the job but is now worried about not making a good impression. The situation has upset him deeply. Routine and structure are very important to him so the strike has considerably heightened stress levels. It's the unpredictability of the situation that's most hard to manage.” She added that the last few days have been particularly difficult for members of the group affected by mobility issues.
“A number of clients in COPE Foundation have mobility issues which means that travelling in a standard car is not an option for them.
Some living nearby have mobility issues that prevent them from walking to the centre. In this instance even a mile or two isn't manageable without the help of a reliable bus service. A few students have been forced to fork out for taxis which are quite costly. There is also the risk that students might get stranded if there is an issue with accessible taxis when returning home.I've been in contact with families and everyone is keeping an eye on the news to see when this might end.” Public transport plays a vital role in the training facility's day to day schedule.
“We travel on the bus to Bishopstown as part of a health and fitness programme but this isn't possible without public transport, hence why our usual activities have to be put on hold.It's comforting to have a fixed plan in place, particularly for people on the autism spectrum. When you deviate from this plan it can cause significant upset.”