Pieta House Roscrea services safe after financial review

Darren Keegan

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Darren Keegan

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darren.keegan@iconicnews.com

Pieta House Roscrea

Pieta House Roscrea

FEARS that Pieta House services in Roscrea might face closure have been allayed after a financial and operational review of the charity has prevented any downgrading of services.

In January concerns for the future of the Roscrea Pieta House facility located adjacent to Glebe Park first surfaced after services were reduced to two days a week, with some clients from Tipperary referred to the charity's services in Limerick.

Reduced services in Roscrea had been switched to a smaller alternative premises, raising alarms in a town which has witnessed a disproportionately large number of tragic suicides in recent years.

The charity had conducted an internal review of the suitability of the current Roscrea premises as a base to continue to provide their services and had noted the number of clients attending the Pieta House facility in Roscrea had declined.

However, last week the charity announced none of its 15 centres, or four outreach centres, located around the country will be downgraded or closed following an internal financial and operational review.

Pieta House said it moved its delivery of therapy for those experiencing suicidal ideation, self-harm and those bereaved by suicide to over the phone in March following Covid-19 restrictions, and also continues to support those in immediate crisis through their 24/7 crisis helpline.

The postponement, due to Covid-19, of Pieta’s flagship fundraiser Darkness into Light, proudly supported by Electric Ireland, left the charity with a very significant funding gap, the charity said – which relies on the public for 80% of its funding to ensure it can provide its national mental health service free of charge.

“The people of Ireland responded to the challenging financial situation with generous support for the ‘Sunrise’ appeal which, along with a number of other initiatives, raised an incredible €6 million and significant awareness for Pieta.

“These funds together with the Government wage subsidy scheme, increased support from the HSE and a 30% pay cut to staff from April to June of this year means that Pieta is in an improved financial position” they said.

All fifteen Pieta centres and four out-reach centres will remain open and their hours will be restored to January 2020 levels, they said, adding that from next month, Pieta House will engage in a phased reopening of centres for staff and will resume face-to-face counselling services from September, in accordance with government guidelines post Covid.

14 additional “full-time equivalent” therapists will be employed, eight of whom will support face-to-face counselling, while six will join the Helpline team to meet the increased demand for telephone assistance. 10 full time equivalent Centre Manager roles and 33 Clinical Support roles, that were identified at risk of redundancy in April 2020, will also now be redeployed.

From July 1, pay for all staff will be restored to pre-Covid levels and the HSE has agreed to provide Pieta House with additional funding of €114,608 per month, commencing in July.

This funding must be spent on supporting the provision of 300 hours per week of therapy to high risk clients.
The charity will also work with the government and HSE on developing a “sustainable funding model for the delivery of services” they said.

Speaking about the Financial Review, Pieta CEO, Elaine Austin, said it was “the overwhelming generosity and kindness of the people of Ireland, and increased support from the HSE and our corporate partnerships” that made the welcome changes possible.

“Pieta is now in a more secure financial position, and we can confirm that our vital services will continue to be delivered across all of our Centres nationwide. The support has been unparalleled and very humbling.

“The response to our distress call also signalling the collective voice behind the value and necessity of suicide prevention – a strong gesture given in solidarity and in hope for all those silently suffering.

“We know people need our service now more than ever in these times of crisis, and it is important that people know that we are here and they are not alone”, Ms Austin concluded.