Last Friday morning, the ISPCC in Mayo hosted a launch of its outcomes for its work in 2014. The charity provides a wide ranging sweep of services to both parents and children throughout the county. While these events can be fact filled, but unmemorable affairs, the personal stories told by users of the services that they provide, outlined in crystal clear words the work that is carried out by the ISPCC in Mayo and the effect it has on those who use the service.
The first of the guest speakers was a 15-year-old girl who has been working with the ISPCC for the past six months to assist her with bullying issues. Telling her story at the launch she said: “I’ve been working a lot with the support worker and learning to not engage with the bully and to walk away, whereas before I’d have responded to a bully and got into a fight or into trouble maybe. Whereas now I walk away and won’t respond to them, the effects that it would have had [the bulling] would be that I would lose pride in myself and I have been working on building up pride in myself, so I can’t be torn down again. A lot of people think that I’m over confident because I would take a dare and I’d do it and it could be dangerous and I could hurt myself, just trying to get popular, which wouldn’t really help out. So I decided that I would stop that and ISPCC has helped a lot.”
To show how much the support of the ISPCC had meant to her, she composed a poem about her experiences called “You can try” which she read out to those in attendance. The poem read:
“You can try and knock me down, but I will get back up. You can call me names and spread your little lies. You can try and make me cry, but I will not even try. You can say your nasty things and tell even more lies. You can try and hurt me with your words, but I will just ignore. You can try to hurt me with your words, but I will just ignore. You can try, but you will not hurt me on the inside any more.”
Offering help when it seems hard to find
The second guest speaker was a mother with two young children. After noticing a change in her elder son two years ago she sought the help of the ISPCC. Speaking at the launch she said: “I have two kids, my oldest son is nine and two years ago I noticed a big change in him, he became withdrawn, angry, and he wouldn’t talk. He cried all the time and eventually my own GP decided possibly he was depressed, which I was thought was crazy, he’s seven years old, there’s no way. We were referred on to see a doctor and was told that most likely was the case.
“We were refereed to Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMS ) here in Castlebar, and they said they would be in touch and wanted tests done and they were and were sent in. In the meantime, I was climbing the walls and I was at my wits’ end, I didn’t know what to do with this little boy, who was always happy and, you know, was a child. He was always crying and I tried everything that was suggested. And then by accident I was told this service was here, so I thought I had nothing to lose while I was waiting, so I did and thankfully it’s the best thing that ever happened.
“We came in and met the professional support worker, she talked to him, had I think 18 sessions, and he came out of it a different child. He has good days and he has bad days, but the good days are a lot more than the bad ones are at this stage, but we’re still waiting to be seen by CAMS and have a definite diagnosis, but I know that this is here if we get stuck or ever need help, it’s here. I even know he still misses coming, it was the best thing that ever happened. There might be a lot of parents out there that don’t know that this is here and the services, and there is someone to help them. Because you don’t know what to do, I’m just glad the service is here and I can’t thank them enough.”
Almost 18,000 calls handled by Childline in Mayo
Childline has had a base in Mayo since 2009 operated by the ISPCC in Mayo, and Caroline Hopkins, the Childline supervisor for the county, outlined the level of interaction that the service had last year with children. Last year 5,419 hours were given by volunteers in Mayo alone, and they answered 17,957 calls alone in the Castlebar office. The service is manned in Castlebar from Wednesday to Sunday, from the afternoon until 10pm each evening, and they deal with phone calls, text messages, and online interactions with children from all over the country. She also outlined that not every call is from a child with a problem, some of them are from children who just want to talk and feel that Childline offers space to that.
The ISPCC offers a number of services for both children and parents including, Childline, behavioural and emotional support and mentoring. It also offers a support line for parents, parent mentoring, and a missing children’s hotline. For more information on the ISPCC in Mayo, you can call 094 9025254 or email [email protected]. It is located at Unit 14C, N5 Business Park, Moneen, Castlebar, Co Mayo.