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Volunteers sought for Limerick riverside hub to help people in distress

VOLUNTEERS are being sought for the Limerick Haven Hub which is expected to open within the next month.

The Haven Hub will be a safe place, located near the river in the city centre, for those in distress or who are contemplating suicide to go to.

Founder and Chairperson of the Haven Hub, Leona O’Callaghan explains it will have two main functions.

The first is for people who “may not necessarily be suicidal but might just want to talk, might need some support, might be feeling extremely stressed and alone”. The hub will provide them with a centre to go to “late at night, that they can sit down and have a coffee with someone that’s trained in peer support and who will have a lot of information about the local services that might be able to help them”.

The second main function of the Haven Hub, Leona explains, is for “people that are suicidal and are distressed – that they can have a place to come.. have privacy, and a cup of tea and a bit of comfort, and get that peer support and come up with a safety plan (there)”.

She continues, “what I’d like to see in the Haven Hub is if we have somebody that might have been distressed the day before, the following day our volunteers will ring them and let them know that we are thinking about them and that we care about them and to make a link with them to ensure that they get support”.

The hub is planned to operate after regular service hours, beginning at 9 o’clock at night.

“Unfortunately, the peak time for attempted suicide and self-harm is around 10 o’clock in the evening,” Leona explains, “and because there aren’t as many services available – the Samaritans are closed and various other organisations that people can go to for support – a lot of people are left with the A&E service which at the moment is overcrowded.”

Alluding to figures she obtained from the National Suicide Research Federation, she says “72% of people that present themselves (to A&E having attempted suicide or self-harm) are discharged and on top of that, 13% leave without even being seen. So, that means 85% of people that go to A&E for help having attempted suicide or having self-harmed, or who are feeling suicidal, are sent home again.

“I suppose there are very complex reasons as to why that happens, but the main issue is people are left feeling that the only door available to them can’t help them.”

The Haven Hub will provide an alternative service for people in Limerick to turn to late at night.

The establishment of the hub is now in its final stages with insurance having been secured and a location being decided upon. The Limerick Voice understands two spaces have been offered to the Haven Hub rent-free and are both located in the city centre, close to the river.

A steering committee has been formed involving a number of organisations including Grow, the Samaritans, Limerick Mental Health Association, Land Search and Rescue, and Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention, as well as representatives of service-users and families affected by suicide.

The committee’s top priority is to get the Haven Hub up and running as soon as possible using their combined expertise and knowledge.

With hopes that the hub will be established in the next four weeks, Leona says they’re in need of volunteers.

“We’re looking for people that would get involved in peer support – preferably ASSIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) trained, but if not we can provide that training to them.

“People that are unaffected by suicide or mental health issues in the past two years so that they’re in a good enough place and have a good enough space between their own experience and the experience of the person walking in the door.

“And I suppose, people like that, that have empathy and would like to make a difference.”

The committee is also looking for professionals such as accountants, solicitors and psychologists, who would share their expertise with the hub.

“We don’t have funds to be able to pay these people but like that, if there’s anyone that’s retired or just very passionate, to be able to help and support the idea, to be involved and to keep our costs low.”

“We do want to make sure it’s run properly and we will adhere to the highest level of governance,” Leona adds.

Emphasising the importance of such a service in Limerick, the Haven Hub founder explains, “we do have an issue around suicide and Limerick has been badly hit lately”.

“It’s desperately needed,” she insists, “this isn’t just an idea that I was the first to think of – loads and loads of people have been crying out for this service for quite some time and I don’t know why it hasn’t happened yet.”

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, email limerickhavenhub@gmail.com.

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