‘Please have a change of heart - don’t close our lifeline!’

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A local MS sufferer has hit out at the ‘temporary’ closure of the respite facility at Dalriada Hospital in Ballycastle.

Originally from Cloughmills, David Knipe, 46, urged authorities to ‘have a change of heart’ stating ‘what are we going to do without it?’.

Diagnosed when he was only 20, David explained: “The thing about going to Dalriada is to meet people who are in the same boat as yourself. We are able to discuss things and learn. You also feel a lot better about yourself when you are with people who are like you.

“You go there and you’re able to have independence and get out and about - it’s like going for a holiday.

“I go there and meet all my friends. We have a young and active crowd that go - although we aren’t very young or active but it’s a laugh.

“I had booked, along with my friends, to meet up for two weeks in May - what are we meant to do now?”

Not only allowing David ‘a change of scenery’ but the facility also allows respite for his elderly parents who are in their 70s.

David, who recently fell and broke his hip, added: “It gives my mum and dad a break. They look after me 24/7 and worry about me all the time. When I go to Dalriada they know I am being looked after very well.

“It’s an absolute sin that it’s being temporarily closed - without any thought about what happens to us. The disease affects a lot of people locally and Northern Ireland.

“I’m only 46, I don’t want to go into a nursing home to get respite.

“I call on authorities to please have a change of heart and don’t close our lifeline. We need this and I’m very scared about what the future holds for us without it.”