Strictly Saoirse raised €70,000 for new children’s playroom in refuge

By Mary Dennehy

A WARM and colourful play space for children staying at the Saoirse Women’s Refuge was officially opened last week – a testament to the united efforts of staff, local businesses and the wider Tallaght community.

Established in 2006, Saoirse Women’s Refuge provides short-term accommodation and 24-hour support for women and children fleeing domestic abuse in its Tallaght-based, refuge complex.

Saoirse Butterfly House Opening 04 10 November 2016

In 2015, 113 women and 226 children stayed at the refuge, which was unable to accommodate 415 families that contacted them in the same 12-month period due to a lack of space.

According to Saoirse’s annual report, they were unable to accommodate 68 per cent of requests for refuge last year due to space constraints – with staff linking these families in with other refuges and support services.

So far this year, Saoirse has provided shelter to 113 families and has responded to more than 3,000 calls to its 24-hour helpline – which offers support and a listening ear to women who may need someone to talk to.

Last week, the refuge celebrated an important milestone with the opening of its new, dedicated playroom, which was made possible after a Strictly Saoirse event last year took to the floor and raised €70,000.

The Salesforce Foundation also made a donation towards the refurbishment of the old playroom, which was a draughty, and damp, run-down Portacabin – which the refuge had no option but to close down.

However, after staff, local business and the wider community reunited last year and overwhelmingly supported Saoirse’s Strictly event, a new, state-of-the-art play space was last week opened for the refuge’s resident babies, children and teenagers.

Saoirse Butterfly House Opening 01 10 November 2016

Trish Cole, Assistant Manager at Saoirse, told The Echo: “A huge thank-you to the community for its support.

“Alongside Salesforce, so many local businesses and members of the community came on board and helped us to raise an amazing €70,000, which allowed us to replace the Portacabin with a warm, wooden facility that will give children a better environment to play in, and take part in therapy, age-appropriate play sessions and after schoolprogrammes.”

She added: “A play space at Saoirse is hugely important.

“These children are coming from difficult, traumatic environments and the playroom gives them the space to express themselves, feel safe and trust again.

“The children see this space as theirs and they feel more comfortable to speak about how they are feeling when they are in it.

“We really can’t thank the community enough for helping us to provide this vital service to hundreds of children.”

Named the Butterfly room by one young resident, the play space was officially opened last Thursday, November 3 when staff, main sponsors, families, Strictly Saoirse dancers and members of the community gathered.

Thanks were also extended to Trish Cahill, a key worker at the refuge, her husband Fergus Crowe, and the committee members who organised the Strictly Saoirse event, and also to caterer Trevor Kearns, who provide food on the day of the playroom’s opening, and Scrummy Mummy Cakes for the goodies.

Saoirse Women’s Refuge receives funding from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, for basic costs and salaries, but outside of that it relies on fundraising.

For further information on Saoirse, or to donate, visit www.saoirsewomensrefuge.ie.

Saoirse’s 24-hour helpline is 4630000. Turn to page 62 for pictures from the opening.

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