People in the vicinity of Tuam are being urged to offer free accommodation in their homes to cyclists taking part in a major suicide awareness initiative.
The organisers of the annual national Cycle Against Suicide, which takes place on the May bank holiday, expect about 7,000 people to take part in the event.
Up to 1,000 cyclists, wearing distinctive orange jerseys, will cycle through County Galway on May 4. They will have lunch at Galway Community College on the day before travelling to Tuam where they will stay overnight.
An afternoon event will be held at the school to promote positive mental health with students, members of the community and high profile speakers taking part. One of its main aims is to convey Cycle Against Suicide’s core message that “it’s OK not to feel OK, and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help”.
The second level students have been preparing for months for the arrival of the Cycle Against Suicide, according to Meabh Ní Fhlaithearta, a teacher at the school.
“These preparations allowed the students to develop new skills while also engaging in the promotion of positive mental health.
“Our preparations have enabled many of our students to work outside their comfort zone and push themselves: both physically with our boot camps and by demonstrating maturity in taking ownership and responsibility at the regular meetings at school, held to organise the details of the cycle’s visit to Galway Community College.”
She says the project means a lot to the students. “It enables them to make a real difference and the empowering nature of the work sees them increase their understanding, appreciation and development of their own mental health wellbeing.”
The organisers of the cycle say the event is on target to have nearly three times the number of participants as it did in 2013. Up to 7,000 people are expected to take part over the two-week awareness drive around Ireland.
Cycle Against Suicide utilises a “homestay programme” which involve people throughout the the country providing a bed and hot meal to participants. Mary Connolly, the homestay co-ordinator for Tuam, says there is still time for people living in the vicinity of the town to offer accommodation or to help out when the cycle passes through.
“So far we have got a terrific response from voluntary organisations, members of the public and the business community. We’re expecting anything up to 1,000 cyclists arriving into Tuam on the evening of Sunday May 4 so we’ll need all the help we can get. We’ll also need as many beds as possible for participants in the cycle so I’d love to hear from anyone in Tuam or the surrounding areas who would be interested in participating in the homestay programme.”
People interested in offering accommodation to the cyclists when Cycle should contact Mary Connolly at (086 ) 1805843 or email [email protected] Anyone interested in volunteering with Cycle Against Suicide, either before or during the event, should email [email protected]
Further information on the initiative is available by logging on to www.cycleagainstsuicide.com where you can also register for any or all of the days in the two-week cycle. There is an early bird registration charge until the end of March of €40 and a special rate of €20 for students or the unwaged. These charges increases to €45 and €22.50 in April. Registration on the day of the event is €50.