Carmha CEO and Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Marie Oppeboen
CARMHA, a charity that provides free, community-based counselling and peer-support service for people over 18 years’ with addiction and mental health issues in Nenagh, was recently selected as a runner-up in the Aviva Broker Community Fund and received €5,000.
Nominated by Tony Delaney, SYS Wealth & Financial Planners, the Aviva Broker Community Fund provides an opportunity for financial advisers/ brokers throughout the country to help support their local charities or community organisations that are making a difference in their area.
Aviva distributed €100,000 to a number of charities and community organisations, all of whom do incredible work in their communities.
Dr Marie Oppeboen, CEO and co-founder of CARMHA, said: “As an essential service, we continue to support people with addiction and mental health issues throughout this pandemic. The demand for our services continues to grow and we had c. 2,000 contacts with our centre since July 2020. That includes attendance at groups, one to one counselling and peer-support, as well as telephone supports. This is nearly double the amount we had during the same period last year so there is clearly a huge demand for the supports we offer right now. Many of our service users have told us that our support has been life saving for them during the pandemic.”
“People who were already isolated and excluded have become even more isolated, and that’s taking its toll on people and families. We’ve seen many turning to drink, drugs or gambling to cope and many of those who were in recovery have sadly relapsed. We have also seen a surge in family members in need of support and women experiencing domestic abuse seeking help. Having a connection really is key to healing, recovery and wellbeing, and establishing connection is at the heart of all CARMHA’s supports and activities. I think that’s why so many people reach out to us and keep coming back. People report that they feel safe, heard, respected and connected when they come into us, and that really makes a difference.”
“CARMHA receives no state fund and is almost entirely dependent on the supports of our local community, fundraising, private donations, philanthropic and corporate donations. Due to the pandemic, CARMHA has like many other charities in the country seen a significant reduction in fundraising income in the past year. That’s why receiving €5,000 in the Aviva Broker Community Fund makes a huge difference to a small charity like CARMHA. On behalf of the board and management in CARMHA, we would like to thank our amazing corporate partners Tony and Aileen Delaney in SYS Wealth and Financial Planners who nominated us, and who have been a fantastic support to CARMHA throughout our development. The money received will go directly towards supporting the increased number of vulnerable people seeking help for addiction, mental health and especially in the context of domestic abuse at this difficult time”, concluded Dr Marie Oppeboen.
Commenting Brian O’Neill, Head of Communications, Brand & Sponsorship at Aviva Ireland said: “We were deeply humbled to hear and see the amazing work that our winning charities and community organisations are involved with and the positive impact that they have on peoples’ lives. We are only too aware of the additional demands on their services and the challenges that Covid-19 has brought to bear on all of them. Aviva want to ensure our CSR program can continue to support the communities in which we operate, where our people work and where our customers live. We wish CARMHA continued success in all that they do within their community.”
Yvonne Moroney, CARMHA peer-support worker and “expert by experience” said: - “Joining one of the groups in CARMHA changed my life. They helped me see that I was not mad but was trying my best to survive and cope with the effects of all the trauma I had experienced. I felt safe for the first time in my life and I didn’t feel judged. They listened and understood me, and I met other people who felt the same, which meant I was not alone anymore. I was gradually able to trust people again and open up about my feelings that I had blocked and locked away for years. I felt connected, I was dealing with my emotions better and slowly I started to heal. Being involved in setting up CARMHA gave me a purpose which linked me to the community in a positive way and kept me going through very difficult times.”
“It’s been extremely hard, and still is, but recovery is so worth it! Now everybody salutes me instead of crossing the road to avoid me! I have gained so much confidence and it feels amazing to be able to use my own difficult experiences for something good and work as equals alongside the people who helped me. Especially now that so many people are struggling. I have even started believing in myself and liking myself for the first time ever! CARMHA has really saved my life and has given me a future I never thought I could have for me and my kids”, said Yvonne Moroney.