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Calls to abuse counselling service increase in 2016

This year over 8,000 calls have been made to Connect, an abuse counselling service, which represents an increase of 4%.

Connect provides anonymous counselling to adults who have experienced childhood abuse.

The out of hours service is staffed by professionals and has seen an ongoing year on year increase in calls since it was established in 2006.

The increase comes from a greater number of calls from existing service users as Connect has consolidated its niche position as a provider of professional out of hours phone counselling to abuse survivors.

Connect is open 20 hours a week (6-10pm, Wednesday to Sunday) and the projected number of overall calls for 2016 is 8,078, up from 7,798 in 2015.

Of these calls 4,264 are forecast to be answered, 3,074 to be received out of hours and 739 will be lost. Those who call out of hours are directed on the answering service to call again within hours.

The annual figures highlight an ongoing year on year increase in demand for the Connect service.

Connect Manager Theresa Kerrigan said the high volume of calls received out of hours is a challenge faced by the service, but that Connect is banging to meet a specific demand of some people. She said:

“Connect is a necessary and niche service that meets the needs of people who choose anonymous telephone based counselling as a first step towards and face-to-face therapy, or as a preferred longer term approach.”

Connect is funded by the HSE and works together with the HSE’s National Counselling Service which is a daytime face to face counselling service.

The gender of callers in 2016 is on target to be two thirds female and one third male, which is similar to previous years to date.

Ms Merrigan said calls from men and women does not reflect gender balance and she called on a greater number of men to avail of the service, particularly in rural areas.

In 2016 there has also been an increase in younger calls and reduction in older callers.

The most common overall setting for abuse is in the family (48%), followed by the community (34%) and 18% institutional. This is set to represent a slight shift from previous years with 4% more in the community compared to 2015.

Ms. Merrigan said an important message is for people to understand is that the majority of abuse occurs within the family.

“There is an over-emphasised public perception of institutional abuse, compared to in family and community settings, where our service records in excess of 80% of cases.

“Connect is available for people who have experienced abuse in any setting, not just in institutions.”

Connect is available at freephone 1800 477 477 from the Republic of Ireland and 00800 477 477 77 from Northern Ireland and the UK.

Opening times are 6-10pm Wednesday to Sunday with additional hours at times of high service demand.

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About Padraig Conlon

Padraig Conlon
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