By Marisa Reidy
More than 20 months on from the devastating closure of the Tralee Women’s Resource Centre, a brand new core committee has come together and is thrilled to announce that the centre has a brand new home at Market Place, Main Street, Tralee.
While restricted to offering just phone and online support for now (due to Covid19), those behind the new Kerry Women’s Resource Centre say they are delighted to see the service back up and running – and have already enlisted over 80 members all keen to lend their support in whatever way they can.
Kerry Women’s Resource Centre aims to engage, educate and empower vulnerable women across the county through the provision of information, support, counselling and training on issues affecting women.
Committee member Rita O’Sullivan Crean told Connect that when the centre was suddenly closed back in December 2018, it had dealt with over 1,700 visits from women across the county that same year. Knowing those figures, and the benefits that women were receiving from the centre, she and others knew something had to be done.
“We felt very upset about what happened and we knew that so many women on the ground were very unhappy. We came to realise that the women using the centre relied on the privacy and confidentially it offered, as some are very reluctant to talk,” she explained
“We also found that there was huge support for the reopening, so we set up a committee to make it happen, We wanted to be independently funded [TWRC was previously funded by the HSE] and wanted to provide a safe and secure place for vulnerable women to come. Most importantly, we wanted these women to take ownership of the centre.”
Their dream became a reality a few months ago, and now – as well as offering information, support, counselling and training on issues affecting women – the committee is also in discussion with tutors to roll out workshops and training in small groups.
Despite the excitement of a brand new era for the centre, however, the reopening is tinged with great sadness, Rita explained:
“Unfortunately our wonderful chairperson Shahidah Janjua passed away on the 28th of March as a result of a long standing illness. She was loved by all who knew her through her work as an inspirational writer, poet, advocate, therapist, environmentalist, feminist, activist and friend. However her beautiful spirit remains with us and continues to motivate us to continue what she had started.”
Rita added that the reopening would not have been possible without the immense support of so many people within the community, who recognise the importance of such a service to the women of Kerry.
“We have been blessed with the support we have received from the public, which is hugely encouraging – including the Dingle Probus group who donated so generously to us; to the women who took part in the VHI Marathon last year; organisers of the pub Quiz in Kerins O’ Rahilly’s; the team at Paco Tralee; Jim Finucane, and the Kerry Choral Union who have given us great support and encouragement. So many businesses have supported us so far, without whom we would not have been able to open our door,” Rita said.
On behalf of the committee, Rita also paid tribute to Michelle Ann Houlihan from Kerry Education and Training Board who organised the SHEP Re-Connect course for volunteers, helping them to meet other community groups and share ideas on self-care and wellness. Also instrumental, Rita said, were Geraldine and the team at the volunteer centre who organised Covid19 training and Jean Foley of KCC who advised on possible sources of funding which the centre hopes to avail of in the future.
“Our centre will be a source of support, referral and signposting for all women who have a pressing issue in their life. We will be there to help and encourage, but also to celebrate and educate,” Rita said.
“We want the women of Kerry to take ownership of this centre and become actively involved in ensuring it is relevant and viable going forward. Women can volunteer, use the service, become members, fundraise and offer any help they feel motivated to give.”
And speaking of fundraisers, on Sunday 30th of August Deirdre Foley ran a 10K in Limerick to help raise funds for the centre. People wishing to donate can still do so via the following link: https://gf.me/u/ynbmbp
Kerry Women’s Resource Centre can be contacted via their Facebook Page or on 087 6356353