Friday 20 September 2019

Console staff offered three-month contracts by Pieta

Console House in Francis Street.
Console House in Francis Street.
Console House in Francis Street.

By Maria Pepper

Staff at the Console centre in Wexford have been offered initial three-month contracts by Pieta House which has taken over the running of services previously offered by the discredited suicide charity which has been placed into liquidation.

Pieta has agreed to provide the 24/7 Suicide Helpline, Suicide Bereavement Counselling Service and the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service at the invitation of the HSE which funded Console to the tune of €252,000 each year from 2006 to 2012 and €599,000 in 2013.

The staff who formerly worked at Console have now been offered employment at Pieta House, according to a spokesman.

'We are continuing to use all the centres where Console services have been offered and we will take time to explore the options in terms of keeping each premises going as there may be a possibility in the future of integrating the services in Pieta House's existing centres,' he said.

The telephone numbers that people previously used to contact Console services have been transferred to Pieta so people can continue using the same numbers they have always used - Console in Francis Street, Wexford can be contacted on 053 9122787., the 24/7 Suicide Helpline is 1800 247 247.

Pieta House CEO Brian Higgins said the commitment of the staff who worked for Console and the quality of the service delivered have never been in question.

'We would hope that the huge public support that exists for all of these services can be retained,' he said.

'Pieta House exists to serve people in crisis. We have a strong team across Ireland and will do everything possible to ensure that current users of the bereavement services will receive the same high quality service from Pieta House in the future,' said Mr. Higgins.

'It is also crucial to assure our existing clients, supporters and staff that there will be no impact on the counselling services that we currently offer to people in suicidal crisis and people who self-harm.'

'We would also ask people for a degree of patience in this transition period as we endeavour to make the process as seamless as possible,' he added.

The HSE National Director for Mental Health Anne O' Connor expressed her appreciation to the staff of Console for continuing to provide important services during the past number of weeks, in a period 'that must have been very distressing for them personally', she said.

A meeting of the Public Accounts Committee heard last week from HSE Director General Tony O' Brien that the increase in funding to Console was conditional on a greater level of scrutiny by the National Office for Suicide Prevention.

This gave rise to a number of concerns including Console's continued failure to respond to requests for information and to attend significant meetings.

An internal audit which began on May 19, 2015 should have taken 12 weeks to complete but it met with considerable resistance from the Console CEO and was not finished until April of this year.

Wexford People

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