Wexford People, April 24th 2023.
It’s a subject so hellish, so horrific, many of us can’t even countenance it. We hear the reports on the news, see the hooded offenders hurrying from the courts, and we stop ourselves right there, stop ourselves before we hear any more. And all we can do is hope such evil never visits our door.
The staff at Children at Risk Ireland (CARI) see the impact of that evil every day of their working lives, see children as young as three-years-old whose lives have been destroyed by that evil, by the adults in their lives, by the people they entrusted with their safety.
With outreach centres in Dublin, Limerick, and now Wexford, CARI provides specialised therapy and support to children, families and groups affected by child sexual abuse, to the victims in those cases we do our best to avoid. And, like the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), this is a service in high demand, one which is desperately trying to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society.
“We’ve got over 220 children on our waiting list,” says National Head of Therapy, Emer O’Neill. “People have been waiting three years to come into our service, if not longer.”
The centre in Wexford, which opened last month, provides for families living throughout the southeast, which means parents in Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford, Carlow, Wicklow, and Kildare, no longer need to drive to the capital to make an appointment. Yet despite the long waiting list, the challenge for staff in Wexford is making the public aware of the work they do, of the services they provide for the children, and their families, who come through their door.