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Busiest year in almost four decades for Samaritans

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Galway Samaritans responded to more than 1,000 cries for help every week in the past year.

The charity said that it has experienced its busiest year ever since it first opened 39 years ago, answering 56,525 calls in Galway over the last twelve months.

The issues which people contact Samaritans about have remained consistent over the last number of years including family and relationship problems; financial worries; depression and mental health problems; loneliness; and stress and anxiety all of which can lead to suicidal thoughts and outcomes.

Details of the increase in use of Samaritans service were revealed in the 2014-2015 Impact Report covering Samaritans’ work in Ireland, which was launched this week.

According to the report, over 653,161 calls for help were answered by Samaritans volunteers across Ireland in the last year.

Calls to Samaritans have increased by 60% since Samaritans launched a free to caller number (116 123) in March 2014.

A partnership between Samaritans, the telecommunications industry, Government and the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) has made it possible to call Samaritans at no cost to the caller.

William Brown, Director of Galway Samaritans said: “The increase in calls shows that many people in Ireland are struggling to cope and need a place to turn for support. Removing the barrier of cost has made it easier for people to access support as they no longer have to worry about call charges.

“It is important that people know that they can talk to us at any time of the day or night about whatever is getting to them. We are here for anyone who needs to talk. It doesn’t matter what kind of problem our callers have, however big or small it may seem compared to the problems other people have.”

The Samaritans are gearing up for a busy Christmas and New Year period, he said.

“We know that many people find the Christmas period hard. Problems don’t go away just because it’s Christmas, so if you’re finding it hard to look forward to the festive season, we’re here for you. If it’s too difficult to open up to friends or family, or you feel you have no one who will listen, talk to us. We’ll keep whatever you say safe, we won’t judge and we’ll help you find a way through,” added Mr Brown.

Samaritans Galway has temporarily re-located to 12 Dock Street, Galway, while its home at No 14 Nun’s Island is under renovation. The organisation will be moving back to its renovated branch in 2016, a year it will celebrate 40 years serving Galway City and County.

Samaritans of Galway is run entirely by volunteers and relies heavily on public donations to maintain the service. Anyone who wants to help or make a donation can do so by post to Galway Samaritans, 12 Dock Street, Galway.

Samaritans volunteers will be there round the clock for anyone who feels they need to talk, in confidence, about whatever’s getting to them – on Christmas Day, Stephen’s Day, New Year’s Day, and every other day of the year.

For emotional support, Freephone 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or call in to the branch at 12 Dock Street from 9am to 6pm to talk to a Samaritan Listener, in person.

CITY TRIBUNE

Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.

College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.

Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.

“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.

In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.

“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.

“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.

Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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