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Simon warns of ‘shocking’ increase in street teens

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There has been a “shocking” rise in the numbers of children, teenagers and vulnerable young people wandering the streets of Galway in search of a place to sleep, according to the Galway Simon Community.

The age profile of those accessing the homeless charity’s resettlement programmes has dropped considerably in the past two years, with nearly half of people presenting for help now aged between 18 and 25.

“That wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. Mid-way last year we decided we urgently needed to focus on that group or you were looking at a situation where they would drift into becoming the long-term homeless of the future,” explained CEO Bill Griffin.

A complex myriad of issues need to be tackled as well as sourcing accommodation. Many of these youths suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction or come from abusive homes while others have learning difficulties and serious ongoing medical conditions. Some have been abandoned after coming out of the care system.

“The problem is, no matter what a person’s personal history is – and no matter what their emotional or psychological needs are – from the moment they turn 18 they are treated as adults and are suddenly expected to fend for themselves,” exclaimed Mr Griffin.

“The vulnerable young people have no home to go to and no family to turn to. And, with no jobs and constant cuts in social welfare and support services, they simply cannot cope and are falling into a life of homelessness and despair.”

The charity has launched an urgent appeal to households for funds to renovate four apartments purchased by Galway City Council under a new project called Fresh Start planned to begin in September targeted at young people. The project involves various agencies, such as Jigsaw, the Galway Youth Diocesan Services and St Vincent De Paul.

For more on this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí appeal for help to locate missing man

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Gardaí are seeking help from the public in locating a 66-year-old man who has been missing from Clonbur since Thursday.

Michael Harte is described as being 5’ 9” in height, of slim build with short grey hair. When last seen, he was wearing blue jeans, a blue jumper, a tan / khaki padded jacket and tan boots.

He is understood to have access to a black Renault Megane with a 02 C registration.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Clifden Garda Station on 095 2250,  the Garda confidential line on 1800 666111 or any Garda station.

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