GOREY based suicide prevention and awareness charity Talk To Tom has officially launched a new fundraising campaign aimed at finding a permanent home for their clinical therapy centre.
The volunteer run organisation has said they hope to raise €300,000 over the next 3-years with their new “Euro For Life” campaign.
The initiative - which was launched last Thursday at Kerry Foods, Shillelagh, Co Wicklow, asks individuals to pledge just €1 per week from their pay-check.
“It’s our hope to have 2,000 people sign up and make the pledge over the coming year,” said the mental health organisation’s Chairperson Trudi Sinnott.
“It’s an ambitious target, but one we will have to meet, rather than just hope to.”
Ms Sinnott has said the group recently lost their Fort Road, Gorey facility after the landlord decided to sell the property.
“We faced the real prospect of having nowhere - for the some 90 people have using our service on a weekly basis - to go.
“It was quite literally a dire situation where vulnerable people were being put at risk.
Staff at Kerry Foods Shillelagh on receiving certificates on completion of QPR Training
“We were operating at the centre for 4-years and had made considerable investments into its infrastructure. To lose it at a moments notice was highly unfortunate,”s he added.
“Simply put - we can’t find ourselves in such a situation in the future. Promises of help to find a permanent home for Talk To Tom from local government have gone unfulfilled so again we must fill the void and do it alone.”
The organisation’s current clinical centre is situated at Pugin Court, St Michaels Rd, Gorey and while it meets their needs, they are fearful that they may be priced out of the market in the future.
“Our current location is costing €20,000 per-annum, however given the current market and economic growth within the Gorey area - it’s a concern that it won’t remain at that rate forever.
“Simply put we need a safe, secure location that can’t be taken off of us overnight. Somewhere were €20,000 of our income is not swallowed up. €20,000 would pay for an additional 400 counselling sessions for those in need in our community if we had it available to us,” she added.
Kerry Foods are the first big name organisation to lend their support to the initiative where over 100 people have already signed up.
Speaking at the launch in their Shillelagh facility last Thursday the companies H.R Business Partner, Fiona O’Carroll said the two groups had recently forged strong bonds - following their first instalment of QPR Training.
“We recently held QPR training here in Kerry Foods Shillelagh which was facilitated by the Talk To Tom organisation,” said Ms O’Carroll.
The course was attended by employees from across the career level spectrum at Kerry Foods - from management to production staff.
“The training was absolutely amazing for everyone involved - because regardless of your role in an organisation whether it be a manager, group leader, team leader or production operative - we are all affected the same way when it comes to our mental health,” she added.
“The feedback from our employees was absolutely amazing and highly unexpected. They were all privileged to be in the room and everyone who attended was delighted to see colleagues from all different levels represented there.
“It has created such a buzz around the place in terms of engagement and there is now a massive desire from everyone to get involved with this incredible charity.
“We had a launch today for the ‘Talk To Tom Euro For Life’ initiative - which was again pretty amazing. We had a large number of individuals making a commitment to donate €1 per week from their wages.
“We as a company will facilitate that deduction for employees to ensure that the Talk To Tom foundation get enough funding to build a new facility in order to keep this vital work going into the future”, added Ms O’Carroll.
“Speaking as a manager in an organisation like Kerry Foods - where our employees and their mental health and well-being is so important to us - to review the feedback that we did following the QPR training was incredible.
To receive personal emails praising the initiative was pretty significant and really lets us know we are doing the right thing.”
“Over 20-people have taken part in QPR training at Kerry Foods Shillelagh to date - which means we now have 20-people within the company who can recognise when someone may be at risk or in a situation where they are think about taking their own life .
“Thanks to this course we now have the tools to bring them to a very safe place.”
QPR which stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — is a suicide intervention technique which was grandfathered into Ireland by Talk To Tom’s Ray Cullen.
Talk To Tom CEO Ray Cullen
The three simple steps which the course outlines can teach anyone to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.
Kerry Foods Shillelagh Production Manager Terry Byrne also lauded the programme as a success.
“We recently completed our first session of QPR training at Kerry Foods and it was phenomenally successful,” he said.
“The feedback from the staff and all the attendees was brilliant. People who have been with the company for 20 or 30-years have said it was the best training course they have ever done - that it had given them an entirely different perspective.
“For me personally - it made me question what I was doing in my role as a manager on site - and think about if any of my actions were adversely affecting the mental well-being of others and what I could pro-actively do to help people with their mental health.
“We have a plan to roll out the training to 75-staff members between now and Christmas with our goal to have as many people trained in QPR as we do in CPR,” he added.
“The feedback has been amazing. I received a number of emails following the training from colleagues praising the programme and how it has helped them and given them a fantastic life skill.”
The sites General Manager Sarah Murphy added: “I got the opportunity to take part in QPR training with Ray about a month ago - and it was on the best training programmes I have ever undertaken.
“It was so different than any other type of course I’ve ever done and the engagement and interaction in the room was just superb.
“It sets you up with a life skill. Prior to it I wouldn't have known how to deal with situations like that but it just equips you with the tools to make someone safe
“We are committed to it here now and I would just like to thank Talk To Tom for letting us be apart of it.”