Abuse support group One In Four raises funds to tackle rise in calls

21/08/2018 - 05:08

By Noel Baker

One of the country’s main organisations for assisting sex abuse survivors has launched its first crowdfunding effort after debate over the visit of Pope Francis led to a doubling of first-time callers seeking help.

One In Four is hoping to raise €10,000 through its first online crowdfunding effort, adding: “We expect an increase in people contacting us over the next few weeks and months and want to make sure we are there for them to guide them through this very difficult time.”

Executive director Maeve Lewis said the organisation typically receives between 20 and 30 first-time contacts a week, but in the run-up to the visit this weekend by Pope Francis, the number of first-time contacts has risen to around 100 a week.

“We are always short of money,” said Ms Lewis. “Resources never meet demand, but since Pope Francis’s visit [was announced] and the discussion around clerical child sex abuse, we have noticed a big increase in the number of people contacting us.

“We just anticipated that this would be a particularly painful time for survivors.”

It costs around €1m a year to run One In Four, which receives €700,000 in State funding. It seeks to make contact with people seeking its assistance within three weeks, followed by an assessment, but the waiting time for therapy can run to six months.

Ms Lewis said the money raised through the crowdfunding effort would be used specifically to meet with the increased first-time contacts and ensure their immediate requirements are assessed, including whether some might need to be fast-tracked into therapy.

“What is happening is causing severe stress to people,” Ms Lewis said of the debate around the Pope’s visit and the continuing scandal over child sex abuse in places such as Pennsylvania in the US.

She said she is “aghast” at the content of the Pope’s letter on child abuse, issued yesterday by the Vatican, adding that people are “fed up with handwringing” and want action.

She said one example would be for mandatory reporting to be made a cornerstone of canon law and another would be for bishops or any other member of Church hierarchy found to have shielded offenders to be removed from the Church.

Ms Lewis said recent scandals have shown that “the same sad patterns” are being repeated and that it is of concern as what has emerged comes from established democracies with developed child protection laws.

“Most of the Catholic children are in developing countries who do not have those systems in place,” she said.

Asked if, given the cost of the Pope’s visit, the €10,000 could have been provided to One In Four, she said: “The thought has crossed my mind. To the best of my knowledge, there is no pathway to make an application for funding that way.”

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