A suicide prevention charity, which provides free counselling services to vulnerable young people, has been forced to cut its allocation of counselling hours in half due to a lack of funds.
The William Winder Rainbow Foundation has provided more than 4,000 free hours of professional counselling to young people since it was established three years ago.
Rural parts of west and north Clare have experienced a marked increase in incidences of self-harm and suicide in recent years and the foundation has been struggling to keep pace with the increased demand.
The charity, set up following the tragic death of west Clare teenager William Winder in 2012, currently operates without any financial support from the HSE or any other arms of the State.
It was established by William Winder’s parents, Mark and Caroline Winder, who have been forced to cut the number of counselling hours offered to at-risk young people from 10 to just five.
They fear the entire foundation could be forced to close unless a source of funding is found soon.
They have appealed to l politicians to rally behind the work of the foundation and help to fast-track a funding application lodged with the HSE.
“Our funds are so low that we could face shutting down, it is that bad. Four thousand hours of counselling have been used in Clare but, because of the lack of funds, we’ve had to cut our counselling services from 10 [sessions per child] to five. We’ve done this so we won’t close down,” said charity founder Mark Winder.
“We are not government funded, every bit of money we spend we have to raise ourselves. And it’s not just around this area [of west Clare], it is right across all of rural Clare, from Kilkee right up to Fanore.
“It’s not just in this area that kids are dying, there is a serious issue right up the whole coast of Clare,” he said.
“We have been trying to get funding from the HSE but it’s a slow process. Hopefully things will start changing. We need the local politicians to rally to us.
“This is our community, so many people are dying in Clare, it’s an emergency situation, and I would like to invite any local politician to come and help us to get the support that we need.
“We have to get back to the community coming together. The community needs to stand by this [the foundation] because it is our community that is dying.
“I’ve been to so many funerals this year already, it takes it toll, it really does.”
The foundation is also advocating for a system of continuous assessment to be introduced into second-level schools in Ireland as a way of removing unnecessary stress from vulnerable young people lives.
William Winder took his own life in June 2012, just three days before the start of his Junior Certificate exams, aged just 15 years.
More than 119,000 students will receive the results of state exams over the next six weeks with the Leaving Certificate results due to be released this Wednesday, and Junior Certificate results due in mid-September.
Parents have been warned to be extra vigilant and mindful of their children at these times of extra stress and anxiety.
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