Violence against women
The downturn in the economy is having an extreme effect on women in Donegal, with the Donegal Women's Domestic Violence Service (DWDVS) recording a staggering 30% increase in calls to their outreach service and helpline during the first quarter of this year.
Last year, 31 families in dire need of shelter were turned away from this refuge due to the lack of space.
Manager of the DWDVS Fiona Doherty said, "We are seeing an increase in women stating emotional and financial abuse since the recession with increasing unemployment, mortgage problems or delays with social welfare payments, for example.
“Women are trapped in relationships because they can't find a job or because they can't sell their homes. This means that domestic violence services here in Donegal are under more pressure to ensure that women and children are safe and can make vital changes to their lives."
Doherty stated that "emotional, financial and sexual abuse within relationships are as damaging as physical abuse and can be harder to prove.”
Presently the refuge in Letterkenny is full to capacity. An application has been made by the service for a larger multi-purpose center with self-contained units that could better accommodate more families, and they are hopeful that their application will be successful.
"At times you can have two women with their children sharing a kitchen, a bathroom and living areas with no privacy," Doherty said.
“There is a real need for this facility. I hope that in 2010 that the DWDVS will be able to continue to sustain the current level of service provision, as any cuts to the core funding will impact directly on women and children accessing the service."
Finola Brennan of the Donegal Women's Network echoed these sentiments.
"The impact that the proposed 60% cut on the national community development program could have an immense impact on services to women in this county. This is very much a grass-roots organization where women tend to go to first when seeking help in an indirect way."
Coping With Depression
The government should start a campaign to discourage teenagers from texting and using the Internet, and encourage them instead to meet and chat about life, according to a Limerick city priest.
"I have found that so many young people are addicted to texting and also spend so much time on the Internet. It is not healthy," said Father Joe Young.
Young is one of thousands of people in Limerick who has suffered from depression, and has made a vow to try and get rid of the stigma associated with the illness before he ends his ministry.
"I would love to get a house in Limerick where young people, and the not so young people, could meet for a chat. You would be surprised what you could solve over a cup of coffee," said the Limerick cleric.
He said that while one in four people suffer from depression, there as still a stigma attached to it.
"Internet and texting, that is the dialogue of the depressed. People get addicted and then don't get out and meet people, and then we end up with young people with depression who take their own lives,” he said.
Young says that he is one of many people who have from time to time suffered from depression and has no problems talking about it. He organized a pilgrimage to Lourdes for people who are or have suffered from the illness.
"I have no problem in saying I suffered from depression. I got medical help. But I am not alone and I want to say it is wrong for some people to say, oh, he is not the full shilling when talking about people with depression.
"I am not a depressed person, but I do suffer from depression and when I do get help and support from my doctor and friends," he says.
Teenage Drinking Escalates
When a 14-year-old girl told HURT coordinator Sadie O'Reilly that of her 25 classmates only five didn't drink and were considered to be "freaks" by their classmates, she saw first hand the stark reality of Derry's drinking culture.
O’Reilly said there seemed to be an attitude in the city, and especially among young people, that drinking won't do any real harm.
"The young girl, who had visited HURT with a friend, told me she didn't do drugs. She only ‘drank and smoked,’” O’Reilly said.
"What a lot of young people don't realize is that there are probably seven to eight times more alcohol related deaths and illnesses in this city than anything related to drug use.
"We have reached a stage with our young people where drinking is an accepted pastime. I was told that young people of 14 and 15 feel there is a lack of other things for them to do. Youth clubs can feel too childish to them, and so many turn to socializing with drink.
"The 14-year-old I spoke to said those of her age who didn't drink were considered abnormal."
O'Reilly said that what many young people didn't understand was that their bodies were not physically mature enough to deal with drinking on a regular basis, and there was a very real chance that they were doing lasting damage to themselves.