independent

Sunday 20 August 2017

Council to explore ways it can help Talk to Tom charity

Ray Cullen of Talk to Tom
Ray Cullen of Talk to Tom

Gorey Municipal District councillors have agreed to examine ways they can provide support to Talk to Tom which will soon be faced with having to pay rates, and is also looking for a permanent home. The organisation's CEO Ray Cullen attended their meeting last week to talk about the valuable done by Talk to Tom in the local community and further afield.

The suicide intervention and prevention organisation has helped many people since being founded in 2012, and has trained thousands in intervention skills. 'There are hundreds of people in crisis,' said Ray. 'In 2016, 107 people used our services, including 63 kids.'

The lease for Talk to Tom' centre on the Fort Road was recently not renewed, so they now operate out of offices in Pugin Court on St Michael's Road. A fundraising sub-committee has been set to raise money to purchase a permanent centre.

Ray said there are no employees, and the volunteers don't claim expenses. One of the biggest costs is rent. It will lose its rate exemption next year, and this will be a massive issue. The organisation operated at a loss of €17,000 last year.

Cllr Mary Farrell asked about the specific steps they could take to provide support.

Cllr Joe Sullivan suggested talking to County Hall about rates.

Cllr Robbie Ireton suggested that a community house in town might be available if it suited. 'The main problem is we have many groups looking for bits of ground. If we give to one, we have to give to all,' he said, adding that space might come available in other areas such as Coolgreany.

'Each organisation should be judged on their own merits and services,' replied Ray. 'These are life saving services, and to say if you give to A, you have to give to B, is way off the pitch. This should be looked at on it own merits.'

Cllr Farrell proposed they come up with ideas and discuss them at the next meeting. Cllr Sullivan agreed they will try to assist them in whatever way they can.

Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin seconded Cllr Farrell's proposal. 'It's actions that count,' he said. 'This is life and death.' Cllr John Hegarty suggested one per cent of the property tax could be ring-fenced for mental health.

Gorey Guardian

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