Controversy over the possible closure of services at Pieta House North West has seriously harmed public attitude towards the charity, local campaigners have said.
A petition with over 6,200 signatures has been sent to the CEO of Pieta House Elaine Austin today seeking to prevent the closure of the centre in Letterkenny.
Pieta House NW opened its doors in 2017 to offer free therapy to those experiencing suicidal ideation, those who have been bereaved by suicide, and people who are engaging in self-harm.
However, in recent weeks it has emerged that services have been cut back and it is claimed that almost all staff had been put on notice as part of a restructuring plan.
Correspondence from Pieta House sent to a local Darkness Into Light committee member said that proposed temporary cuts to therapists hours are now subject to a review. The review comes as funds raised from the Darkness into Light Sunrise appeal “exceeded all expectations”. It is expected that the review will be completed in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, Christy Galligan, a former coordinator of Darkness into Light in Letterkenny, said the generic responses he received from queries to Pieta House have not allayed fears.
In a letter to Ms Austin and the Pieta House board, Mr Galligan said: “Your treatment of those of us who poured blood, sweat and tears as volunteers into getting sponsorship, to ensure a stable and ongoing centre in Pieta NW, has been for nought by your lack of response and your decision making.
“Your treatment of staff whether parttime or full time, not only in Pieta NW but in other centres, does not bode well going forward.
“Your lack of consultation and decision making with us, the public and volunteers prior to the Darkness into Light event in 2020, has made us challenge and debate your motives and sincerity in holding this event if you knowingly made the decision to close down or reduce staffing levels to a minimum and reduce outreach at these centres.”
Mr Galligan said he will not be holding his breath for a response to the submission of the petition and said: “Our confidence and trust in you as a charity, that was there to help those in most need, has been seriously damaged and your reputation as a caring charity in a person-centred environment, to help those most vulnerable, has also been damaged beyond repair if these cuts are nor reversed.”