From left to right is Sgt Donal Casey, Sgt Michael Dardis, Supt Colin Furlong and Community Garda Grace Heffernan, pictured outside of Birr Garda station in support of 'Go Purple Day'
Local Gardaí are supporting 'Go Purple Day' and people are also being asked to show their support for the event this Friday, April 23.
'Go Purple Day' is a national day of fundraising and awareness for local domestic violence services including Offaly Domestic Violence Support Service CLG,.
People, businesses, and schools are also being encouraged to wear purple, bake purple, grow purple, paint purple - whatever they like - to show their support and fundraise for their local domestic violence service.
“For over a year now, we have all been working under enormous pressure to respond to people who are experiencing domestic abuse,” said Anne Clarke, Manager of ODVSS.
“In Ireland, and across the globe, incidences of domestic and sexual violence have risen significantly since the start of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. Our own service recorded a 50% increase in the number of people looking for help.”
“This epidemic has exposed an outpouring of communal empathy for those living with control and abuse in their homes that we have perhaps not seen before,” she continued.
“We hope that this Go Purple Day will give people another easy, fun way to continue to support our work in keeping women and children safe here in Offaly.”
Speaking to the Tribune this week, Superintendent Colin Furlong was delighted to lend An Garda Siochana's support to this forthcoming event.
“Our whole reason for being is to keep people safe, whether it's on the roads, people doing their everyday business or indeed in their home. Therefore, anything that creates awareness or support of people providing services in the domestic violence area is supported by us, the local Gardai,” he said.
Unfortunately, Superintendent Furlong confirmed there has been an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence being reported during the period covering the Covid-19 lockdown since last year. He said there's has been a 15 per cent increase in these figures in the Laois/Offaly district on previous years' figures.
The local Superintendent encouraged anyone who feels unsafe in their home or is experiencing domestic violence to contact their local Garda station where an Garda Siochana will be available to speak to them in confidence and safety.
Meanwhile, ODVSS is one of the 39 frontline service members of Safe Ireland across the country. You can donate to ODVSS via the webpage www.odvss.ie or by social media platforms Facebook and Instagram by selecting ODVSS from the “Raise Funds” drop-down list. All funds raised in Offaly will go to the local service. ODVSS is the only service in the Midlands that support male and female victims of domestic abuse.
The dedicated day was originally initiated by members of An Garda Síochána in Meath. It has now grown into a wider national day of awareness in partnership with Safe Ireland, the national agency working to create safety for women and children, and Men’s Aid.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the numbers looking for support from a domestic violence service. According to Safe Ireland’s Tracking the Shadow Pandemic Reports, over 2,000 women and over 500 children on average, received support from a domestic violence service each month from March to December 2020. In that same time, over 57,000 helpline calls were answered nationally.
An Garda Síochána has prioritised support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence with Operation Faoiseamh throughout Covid-19 and ODVSS has welcomed the force’s continued focus on this issue.
“If we want to eliminate domestic violence in our community then we need a whole community response,” Ms Clarke stated. “We are grateful to Total Health Pharmacy and Boots who came on board during Covid to create safe spaces for women to disclose abuse and seek help and information. We need more initiatives like this within our community.” she added.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, contact ODVSS helpline number on 0579351886 or Mobile 0860419154. If it is not safe to talk you can also send a text message or access ODVSS chat box on www.odvss.ie
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