VITAL counselling services for those who have experienced sexual violence continue to be provided in Clare, despite the lockdown conditions imposed to control Covid-19.
Rape Crisis Midwest (RCMW), which has offices in Ennis, Limerick and Nenagh, has said that the increased financial and health concerns caused by the crisis, as well as looking after children at at time of restricted opportunities to travel outside the home have put new pressure and strain on families. While the service had to close its doors in the middle of last month, it continues to offer counselling, using remote technologies to make sure that clients are supported.
“The doors of RCMW may have closed on March 15, but we remain very much open,” a statement from the organisation said. “We have adapted to the needs of the men and women who access our service every week by offering counselling and support on a remote basis. This can take the form of telephone support, Skype, FaceTime for example. All our current clients were contacted the week of March 15 and support has been put in place by our staff for all of them.”
RCMW noted that a number of clients would have availed of face-to-face counselling at its local offices while children attended school, and that many have never told their families about their experience of sexual violence.
“We are doing our best to work around hours when clients can access that support – many men and women would have attended our centre during school hours and speaking with a counsellor during the daytime is no longer possible as their children are at home. Indeed, many coming through our doors would not have told family members at all. We have therefore put in place a very flexible arrangement to facilitate their needs. There is really no substitute for face-to-face counselling, but closing our centre all together to those most vulnerable was not an option.”
Said Miriam Duffy, Director Rape Crisis Midwest, “This is week two of this new way of working with our clients and so far they are telling us they feel very supported by this. So, we are working as usual but differently. For new clients accessing our service, obviously the doors are not open but we would encourage people to ring our Freephone number 1800-311511 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . This will be accessed on a daily basis and we will do our utmost to get back to you within 24 hours on Monday to Friday. Outside those hours, there is a National helpline number 1800-778888.”