The GAA and Samaritans have come together to offer greater emotional support for people who are struggling to cope across the 32 counties.
The announcement is the first of a series of initiatives the GAA will be undertaking this year to make sure its members have access to emotional support in these challenging times. For Samaritans, working with the country’s largest sporting and community organisation offers the opportunity to extend its important work even further across the country and into every parish on the island of Ireland.
The partnership aims to encourage people who are going through a difficult time to seek help, while also tackling the stigma associated with mental health problems. In doing so, both organisations hope that people will access the round the clock support provided by Samaritans.
“Mental health was identified as a key focus area for the GAA in 2014 and the volunteer-based ethos and 32-county nature of Samaritans made them a natural fit for the Association,” explains An tUachtarán CLG, Liam O’Neill.
“At some stage of our lives we all struggle. The GAA has always prided itself on being there for its members in times of need, and now thanks to Samaritans, our members across the entire GAA family have an additional support structure available to them.”
Catherine Brogan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland said:
“Samaritans and the GAA are an important part of community life in Ireland. Both organisations are aware of the problems that so many are experiencing and understand the importance of providing support. This innovative partnership will allow us to let people know that there is always someone there to talk to about whatever is getting to you.”
The partnership will see posters issued to every GAA club in Ireland promoting Samaritans’ service with links on GAA.ie to the charity’s telephone and email support service. Samaritans will also deliver a number of active listening workshops through the GAA’s new county health and wellbeing committees, and will help respond to the growing desire of clubs to provide similar events at grassroots level. Both organisations are also exploring the potential of extending this partnership to the GAA’s UK based clubs, where Samaritans are also active in all communities.
While their vision remains that fewer people should die by suicide, the charity’s callers do not need to be suicidal to call Samaritans. People contact the helpline about everything from depression, relationship and family issues to loneliness, physical and mental health issues, abuse, financial worries and much more.
Samaritans are one of the GAA’s five named charities for 2014, and will benefit from the €20,000 donation each charity receives. However, both organisations are determined to maximise the benefits the relationship can offer and hope that it will grow into a lasting partnership that will benefit the people of Ireland for years to come.
For more details contact Colin Regan, GAA Community & Health Manager on 087-245705 or Rachel Wright, Samaritans Ireland Policy & Communications Officer on 0858605554.
Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. Please call 08457 90 90 90 in Northern Ireland or 116123 in the Republic of Ireland, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.samaritans.ie for details of the nearest branch.
About GAA Community & Health section
The GAA’s Community & Health section, through support from the HSE and the National Office for Suicide Prevention, directs the Association’s work across a variety of programmes and initiatives in areas including youth development, social inclusion, community outreach, drug and alcohol education, and emotional wellness.