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Siobhan Durack of Derg Credit Union and Claire Neylon of Kilrush Credit Union supporting Olive Walsh, right, the first trained Buddy in Clare with Cycle Against Suicide. Photograph by John Kelly

Credit unions backing mental health initiative

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KILRUSH and Derg Credit Unions have teamed up to help a key suicide prevention charity which is rolling out a community-based system to ensure support is available for anyone in mental health distress.
Cycle Against Suicide’s Community Buddy Programme trains and equips people in communities with the practical, hands-on skills and knowledge they need to deliver support locally.
Through this programme, Buddies are trained to provide a listening ear, show empathy, discern the level of mental health distress an individual is going through, and make recommendations for appropriate professional help and resources that can help the individual cope positively and build resilience.
“This is a really fantastic idea because people are really struggling right now,” said Claire Neylon, Business Development Officer with Kilrush Credit Union.
“We’re delighted to be working with Derg Credit Union on this, because we have a great relationship with them and with Ennistymon Credit Union, whereby we often undertake joint marketing initiatives.”
Cycle Against Suicide is now actively looking for local clubs, groups and associations to nominate themselves to the Community Buddy training programme.
Buddies are trained to provide a listening ear, show empathy, discern the level of mental health distress an individual is going through, and make recommendations for appropriate professional help and resources that can help the individual cope positively and build resilience.
“This will be a free service and it’s something West Clare could really benefit from,” Claire said. “It’s set up in such a way that people are able to get help and to talk to someone who is a community volunteer, but not necessarily someone they already know. There’s confidentiality and privacy and people are more likely to open up about what they’re going through.”
Claire also noted that Cycle Against Suicide is in the process of re-branding, and benefiting from the support of credit unions in this county.
“The cycle itself is the event and a hugely successful one,” said Claire. “The organisation does a lot more and we’ve been involved previously with its schools programme. That’s fantastic because it is so important to embed the message in teenagers that they can and should talk about what they’re going through and that support is available.”
With more than 10,000 members at Kilrush Credit Union alone, the organisation has a huge platform to raise awareness of the charity and its message.
“Cycle Against Suicide do amazing work and we’re delighted to be able to raise awareness of it with our members,” Claire said. “We’ll be sharing its message and details of its fundraisers and other initiatives across all of our platforms. We have a large membership base and there’s a good tie-in there, because it’s in line with our ethos of supporting the community.”
Fundraising for the programme is currently underway through a ‘Share the Load on the Road’ cycle running until May 31, which encourages people to cycle 670km with a buddy.
The funds raised will go towards the training of Community Buddies, which runs to €400 per person. The organisation aims to raise €40,000 and train 100 buddies. Cycle Against Suicide has likened the new Buddy Programme to a neighbourhood watch, equipped to provide free, ongoing support for those in their communities who have mental health struggles and need help to cope and improve their quality of life.
Full details are available at Cycleagainstsuicide.com/community-buddy-club/

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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