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Children at Risk Ireland (CARI) have officially launched our new southeast Outreach Service, to support children, teenagers and families affected by child sexual abuse.  The service has two dedicated therapists and will serve counties Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Kildare and Wicklow.

“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 Service is based in Wexford town and is the first step in our plan to extend outreach services across the State.”

Sonya 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. 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 victims of child sexual abuse from outside those catchment areas. The southeast Outreach Centre will be more accessible to children, teenagers and families in this region.”

About the Southeast Outreach Service

Sonya says the southeast 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 privilege to work so closely with the bravest of people in our society.”

Sonya has been a child and adolescent psychotherapist at CARI for the last 5 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. 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.”

About CARI

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 this much needed outreach service in Wexford.  “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. “

“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.”

“So, the Wexford-based Outreach Service will help children and teenagers in the wider Southeast region. However, it costs €62,000 a year to run, and we receive just €23,000 in funding. So, we are launching an appeal to help cover the shortfall in annual costs.”

How to Support the Southeast Outreach Service

“People can donate to the appeal here: Donate to Wexford Outreach – CARI. We are also urgently seeking local volunteers in Wexford and the surrounding areas to help with our fundraising efforts. If you have time to spare to help children coping with the trauma of sexual abuse, please email us at hello@cari.ie

The southeast 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