WHILE the Fleadh is set to bring a carnival atmosphere to Ennis, sadly and inevitably a certain amount of people will be struggling and the Samaritans Festival Branch are coming to town to offer their support.
Around 23 members of the branch from all over Ireland will be in Clare, where it is expected they will offer confidential emotional support to around 200 people next weekend.
Sean Higgins, director of the Samaritans Festival Branch, explained volunteers at centres around the country also volunteer to travel to festivals. “There are about 70 volunteers involved in the festival branch and about 23 of them will be in Ennis. They’re from all over the country, from Coleraine, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Dublin and, obviously, people from Ennis.”
They talk to anyone in need of a listening and supportive ear. “We take our base in Ennis and we go out to the streets. We stand around, we have a little badge, we say hello to a lot of people and people can come and talk to us. We listen, and people can talk through what may be a problem for them.
“People might think it is silly that someone might stand in a wet night in the middle of the street to talk about things like this. But if it’s the first time you have had the opportunity to do so, you open up a little bit.
“We would be going out from 9pm on Friday night and we finish at 3am on Sunday morning.”
Men are seemingly better disposed to getting support from the festival branch volunteers. “The phonecalls we get in the branch, about 70% of those contacts are female. In festival, it’s the other way around, 70% of callers would be men and they’re very difficult to reac