Abuse survivor charity closed waiting list due to high demand

One in Four saw surge in requests for help after Belfast rape trial and during Pope Francis visit

One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis:  the group was forced to turn people away last year.

One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis: the group was forced to turn people away last year.

 

A charity supporting survivors of child sexual abuse had to close its waiting list for four months last year due to the high level of demand for its services.

One in Four, which published its annual report for last year on Wednesday, said the “lack of resources” needs to be addressed going forward.

The group saw a surge in the demand for its services during the visit of Pope Francis and after the Belfast rape trial. During his visit, the pope spoke of his pain and shame at the failure of church authorities to tackle the scandal of clerical abuse in Ireland.

“The demand for our services was so great that we had to close our waiting list for a period of four months during the year, especially around the time Pope Francis visited, there was a huge surge in demand,” said Maeve Lewis, chief executive of One in Four.

Almost a quarter of the 111 new clients who contacted the charity last year had already tried to take their own lives.

“We can only imagine what has happened to the people we were never able to meet,” Ms Lewis added.

One in Four has had to turn people away because it has not the money to pay for services, and an application for emergency help for exceptional cases was refused.

Waiting time

Last year, One in Four met 911 people, aided some 500 people through its adocacy service, provided individual and group psychotherapy to 146 people and also helped 80 family members of its clients. The average waiting time to access its services is six months.

David Holohan, the chairman of One in Four’s board, outlined the organisation’s strategic plan for the coming years which includes securing funding to move to a larger premises.

“The premises we’re in at the moment is not simply ideal for the offering we have. We have been impacted by several weather events, there’s a very big storm approaching so that doesn’t bode well,” he said.

Fifty-two men aged between 18 and 69 who had caused sexual harm were helped by the organisation’s Phoenix Programme. Sixteen had abused a family member; 11 had abused a known child; and 21 had abused online.

“Almost half have never been convicted of their crimes but are willing to admit to causing sexual harm. Men travel from all over the country to attend. Our rigorous programme helps keep children safe,” Ms Lewis said.

However, Phoenix is “totally underfunded” and has a waiting list: “I find it appalling to think that children may be sexually abused because the offender cannot get access to a programme.”

During the year, One in Four helped 35 people through criminal trials, and 11 people in civil cases. It made 63 child-protection notifications to Tusla, the child and family agency.