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Jigsaw: helping troubled young people put the pieces together



Date Published: {J}

There is nothing as horrible for a family as when a young person is going through a bad time. They feel abandoned, ashamed and neglected, and what happens then is that they can turn on each other.”


Psychologist Tony Bates is well qualified to talk about how young people and their families feel in times of trouble. The former Principal Clinical Psychologist in St James’s Hospital, Dublin, he edited the Government’s current mental health policy, a Vision for Change, which was published in 2006.

It was Tony’s awareness of shortcomings in the state’s services that led him to set up Headstrong, an independent charitable organisation which focuses on mental health issues for young people. And it was as a result of Headstrong’s campaign that Galway became the first county in Ireland to set up Jigsaw, a free support service for people aged 15-25, which opened over a year ago in Mary Street in Galway city centre.

The state’s mental health services have traditionally been at their weakest when dealing with teens and young adults, which is more than short-sighted, because maintaining good mental health during these crucial years can affect a person’s whole life.

But that’s where Jigsaw, a partnership between Headstrong, the HSE and Mental Health Ireland is making a difference.

It is a community centred service which offers confidential, non-judgemental support to young people across a whole range of areas including relationships, eating, drugs, sex and sexuality, stress, decision-making and anxiety.

If people need to get further help or advice on their problem, the staff at the centre will make sure that they are sent to the right place. Jigsaw is, to use an often abused phrase, a holistic service aimed at supporting a group of people who are often overlooked or disparaged.

“They might come here for information or just to hang out. They shouldn’t feel they have to come with a problem,” says Tony about the warm, comfortable centre on Mary Street. And he adds that the patio area out the back facilitates smokers.

“It might take a few visits before people get to what they want to talk about. The idea is not to put pressure on them.

“The range of problems dealt with here would range from very minor, but critical in that person’s life, to being dangerous for the person.”

Tony describes the Jigsaw as “stage-appropriate intervention” and says that “the idea is to catch people before [any problem] becomes as serious as suicide”.

Since it opened, 588 people have gone through the doors of Jigsaw Galway – 53 per cent of those were male. Others have accessed the service through its website, by text or referral. “Many of these were self-referrals, and so young people feel this is a safe place to come to,” says Tony.

For more, read page 27 of this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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