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A Feakle volunteer run centre is continuing to tackle isolation.

The Ciúnas Centre in Feakle is a local, unfunded, not for profit run by volunteers which has been hit hard by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since achieving registered charity status in 2009, Ciúnas Centre provides rapid access to very affordable and specialist wellness-based therapies and counselling in a fully accessible community-based centre in Feakle.

Volunteer Centre Manager, Máire Bourke states, “Our particular expertise is in helping the more vulnerable in our communities such as carers and their families, the elderly, those with intellectual and physical disabilities and those with serious illnesses. Ciúnas also assists professionals working with vulnerable people such as nurses and health workers, anyone working in emotionally demanding positions such as special needs assistants and teachers, paramedics, emergency services, or anyone in need of self-care in the short or longer-term.

The centre is run and managed by a core team of three founders and a volunteer manger. Providing the service are self-employed therapists who are insured, and Garda vetted, providing their expertise at reduced rates. In addition, Ciúnas has a Board of Directors, comprised entirely of community volunteers and two community funded job-share receptionists.

Máire explains, “We want to provide a sense of place and be a source of comfort to those who need us with the aim of pre-empting the onset of family and personal crises and to be accessible to those that are unable to get timely/affordable access to mainstream services. By actively helping to address feelings of isolation or alienation in the community, and often the shame or stigma of having need, we are helping to deliver positive social impact locally.”

Almost 1,500 clients have been welcomed for wellness treatments and/or counselling services in 2019, a 35-fold increase since the centre opened in 2009, and demand for services continues to increase, Máire tells, adding that they are currently seeking additional therapists to join their small team.

“Being unfunded we need monetary donations,” she admits. Due to the vulnerability of clients, the centre has been unable to reopen as of yet. The centre has not been eligible for any of the government or other rescue grants. In addition, traditional fundraising activities have been completely curtailed.

Máire states: “Counselling and wellness therapies will be even more in demand in the aftermath of this pandemic, when the heavy toll it’s taking on people’s mental and physical health will become very apparent. Therefore, we are looking for support to help us cover core costs during our closure so we can be there when we will be most needed”.

€5000 is needed to help fund an additional 100 client wellness therapy/counselling hours for those unable to afford them, or it would ease the monthly core costs of the centre for approximately an additional 5 months. Additional donations would be used to update aged PC’s, to revamp their website, social media offerings and develop marketing materials. A €500 donation, which would help fund an additional 50 client wellness therapy/counselling hours for those unable to afford them.

Máire imparts with, “We have survived, primarily by self-funding ourselves, for the past 10 years, we really don’t want to let a pandemic beat us now when our services are needed more than ever, so we would really welcome your support.”

The centre also offers vouchers with no expiry dates for €50 for a one-hour wellness therapy of choice.

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