Children at Risk Ireland (CARI) has officially launched a new South-East Outreach Service to support children, teenagers and families affected by child sexual abuse.
The service has two dedicated therapists and will serve counties Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Wicklow, and Kildare.
“No child abuse victim should have to travel more than an hour to access therapy services,” says Sonya Joyce, CARI’s Outreach Manager.
“The new outreach centre is based in Wexford town and is the first step in our plan to extend outreach services across the State.”
Ms Joyce says weekly therapy sessions last for one hour and can be emotionally draining.
“So, we don’t think it is fair to expect a child or teenager to travel for over an hour to their session,” she said.
“That would make it a three hour outing from home, which is not sustainable for them or for parents and carers. These families are already at breaking point and we cannot place more unrealistic demands or pressure on them.
“At present CARI only has centres in Limerick and Dublin. We need outreach centres to serve the vicims of child sexual abuse from outside those catchment areas. The southeast Outreach Centre will be more accessible to children, teenagers and families from Kilkenny.”
She says the South-East centre has been open on a pilot basis for several months but is now on a stronger footing with the appointment of two dedicated therapists.
“Therapy at CARI centres around the primary client, the child or teenager. It also provides support and psychoeducation to parents and carers. Our dedicated therapists consider it a privelege to work so closely with the bravest of people in our society,” she said.
Ms Joyce has been a child and adolescent psychotherapist at CARI for the last five years and has seen first-hand the difference early therapeutic intervention can make .
“As well as talking therapy we also use creative approaches such as play, art and music to help our young clients. These approaches can give voice to the unspeakable,” she adds.
“Children play out their trauma, they find release and catharsis, and ultimately healing in the safety of the playroom. Believe it or not there is also a lot of fun and laughter, and the relationships forged between children and their therapists are very special.”
CARI is the only national charity which specialises in support for children and teenagers affected by child sexual abuse. CARI’s National Head of Therapy Emer O’Neill says they are delighted to provide the much needed outreach service.
“Every child, teenager and their family deserve to be able to access our service when they need it. They shouldn’t be alone in dealing with the impact of child sexual abuse, no matter where they are in the country,“ she said.
“We know that home was NOT a safe place for a lot of children during lockdown and the number of abuse cases massively increased. They continue to grow rapidly fuelled by the ongoing impact of Covid and the dangers of the online world.”
The South-East outreach centre is open every Friday from 9.00am to 5.00pm. It is based at 3 Rowe Street Upper, Ferrybank South, Wexford Y35 E2CK. To book an appointment, just call their Helpline on 0818 924567. Alternatively, you can call + 353 1 830 8529 or +353 61 582224. Find out more about CARI on www.cari.ie.