CORONAVIRUS

On our doorstep, Kilkenny's Teac Tom ready to help in these tough times

No problem too big or too small — just pick up the phone, says Angela Hayes

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

Teac Tom on Ormonde Road

“Teac Tom is still here 24/7. Our counselling staff are working away. It’s very important people know that.”

So says the organisation’s founder Angela Hayes, who is at pains to remind people there is a local service in their community ready to help them. Based in Kilkenny, Teac Tom offers counselling, emergency support to people bereaved by suicide, and a listening ear at the end of a phone for people going through a tough time. Right now is a tough time for many.

“People are so frustrated and don’t know where to go,” says Angela.

“So it is very important that they can pick up the phone. Trained listeners are ready to support people.”

One of the rooms at Teac Tom in Kilkenny

Angela is concerned that the worst is yet to come. Due to the mortgage moratorium, a freeze on evictions, and the Covid unemployment payment, many people are able to cope at the moment. The flood is merely being held back temporarily.

“There are going to be huge implications on people, and it’s not really going to fully show for a few months,” she says.

“There are going to be long-term impacts on people’s mental health.

“It’s when it goes back — when the banks want the mortgages, the Covid payment stops and there might not be a job for people to go back to, we are going to see huge issues.”

Local councillor Joe Malone, who says he himself found the new restrictions initially difficult to adjust to, says mental health is a big issue at the moment.

“Teac Tom are still open for business. They do great work and their doors are open,” he says.

Cllr Malone warns that alcohol and drug use are exacerbating problems. Domestic situations are also proving challenging for a lot of families — and it’s affecting everyone. One Teac Tom volunteer who also works for a men’s support line reports that the number of men contacting them in relation to domestic abuse has ‘hugely increased’ .

While some national organisations have benefited from high-publicity donation drives, it’s important for Kilkenny to remember there are local organisations working here providing crucial services for people in the community — accessible for many within the distance and movement restrictions.

Teac Tom will face a significant challenge this year, as Covid-19 regulations have meant all its large fundraising events have had to be cancelled. The charity depends on fundraising to keep the service open as it receives no government funding. This will put it under considerable pressure, however, Angela says they will endeavour to continue with the 24/7 service for the people in our community.

“Teac Tom is there,” she says. “No problem is too big or too small. If anyone is worried about anything, just talk about it. Just pick up the phone or send an email or message.

“We need something for the people of Kilkenny because this is the place they can walk into.”

You can contact Teac Tom on 056-7796592, on Facebook, thethomashayestrust.com or by email at thethomashayestrust@gmail.com.