172 babygrow display represents children who needed refuge

By Mary Dennehy

OUTSIDE the Rua Red Arts Centre in Tallaght, 172 babygrows were displayed to represent the 172 children who received emergency accommodation in Saoirse Women’s Refuge last year.

The installation was part of the local refuge’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which raising awareness of domestic violence culminated in the virtual launch of the service’s Annual Report 2019.

Saoirse Annual Report babygrow installation 1

172 babygrows on display outside Rua Red

Speaking with The Echo this week, Ellen O’Malley Dunlop, Acting CEO of Saoirse, said that one of the aspects highlighted in the 2019 annual report was an increase in the number of children who stayed at the refuge last year.

According to figures provided in the Annual Report 2019, 72 women and 133 children stayed at the Tallaght-based refuge in 2018, with 89 women and 172 children receiving emergency accommodation in 2019.

Alongside providing refuge, Saoirse supported 322 clients through its Outreach and Prevention team and also received 3,238 calls to its 24 hour helpline.

Some 453 families could not be accommodated in 2019 as the refuge was full.

Looking back on 2019, Ms O’Malley Dunlop said that the year was a time of “transition and expansion” for Saoirse, which is now managing a second refuge for the South Dublin County area, which can accomodate an additional five families.

“The Board and the Management of Saoirse along with South Dublin County Council and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency responsible for state funding for Refuges, responded to the huge need for a second refuge, and an appropriate property was purchased”, Ms O’Malley Dunlop said.

“The property was project managed by Saoirse so that it would be fit for the purpose of accommodating five new families in its shared living space.

“This meant that support was now available for 11 families at any one time with further space for two more families in its safe houses.”

Thr second refuge in South Dublin County opened in January 2020.

There was also an extension to the Outreach and Prevention team in 2019, which, responding to a need within the community, involved a 50 percent growth in the number of staff required to deliver the new expanded service. 

Nadine O’Brien, of Saoirse’s Outreach and Prevention Programme, said: “Our Outreach team aims to deliver a community based prevention and early intervention service whose goal is to empower those experiencing domestic abuse to live free from the crime of Domestic Violence.

“We provide practical and emotional support to those who have or are experiencing physical, emotional, sexual and/or financial abuse.

“We also provide advice and assistance on legal, housing, social welfare, entitlements, information advocacy and referrals to appropriate other services.”

Demand on Saoirse’s services in 2020 have increased dramatically, with figures for May to June alone seeing 175 families with 362 children receiving outreach support.

As 2020 nears a close, Ms O’Malley Dunlop wished to thank staff and the community for its support.

“I’d like to say thank you to everybody in the community, without you we wouldn’t be able to give the breath of supports we give.

“We’re very grateful to people in the community.

“I’d also like to thank the professional and dedicated staff at Saoirse, they really do give their all.”

The Annual Report was launched through Zoom by Colm Brophy TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora.

Saoirse’s helpline is open 24-hours and can be contacted on 4630000.

Visit www.saoirsewomensrefuge.ie for further details or follow the refuge on social media.

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