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Couples experiencing lockdown tension urged to call Accord helpline

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 April, 2020

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has urged couples experiencing tension in their relationships during the COVID-19 lockdown to contact Accord’s specially dedicated counselling service.

Last week, Accord Dublin, the catholic relationship counselling service, launched a new helpline for couples who find themselves in distress during the pandemic, amid concerns over the impact the lockdown is having on many relationships.

On Wednesday (15 April 2020) Accord CLG and Accord Northern Ireland announced that they too have established relationship support phone lines to help support marriage and relationships in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These two helplines will be staffed by experienced couples and relationships counsellors. This will be a free service but calls are charged at a local rate.

Accord’s specialist in counselling (marriage and relationships), Mary Johnston said, “Accord is very conscious of those experiencing difficulties in their relationships and family lives as we are confined to home during this unprecedented period for all in society.”

“The circumstances in which we are living now can increase stress and pressure on relationships and in families.  To help address these challenges, Accord has established a  relationship support phone line to enable callers to speak to experienced couples and  relationship counsellors in order to talk through the difficulties they are experiencing.”

Accord’s telephone service has been set up as more incidents of domestic violence and relationship tensions have been reported globally as restrictions, aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus, remain in place.

Launching Operation Faoisimh last week, Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, head of the Protective Services Bureau, said the Gardaí would respond quickly and robustly to any report of domestic violence despite the force being stretched by other duties related to the pandemic.

Confined to quarters: Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. (Pic Dublin Archdiocese).

Speaking to CatholicIreland.net, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin highlighted that there are “a lot of tensions, problems about domestic violence and sexual violence” within many families as they grapple with increased stress relating to financial difficulties and enforced proximity in confined accommodation.

“People need a place where they can talk,” Dr Martin said.

Referring to Accord’s experience in relationship counselling, he said this couldn’t be done face to face in the normal way at the moment because of the social distancing measures and so the telephone helpline had been set up specifically to help couples who need support.

Accord’s dedicated COVID-19 couples and relationships line is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm. It offers an experienced couples and relationships counsellor to talk to people during what the agency describes as “an unprecedented time of stress and pressure on family life”.

“This helpline could easily be swamped,” Archbishop Martin acknowledged. “We will see how it works and we can improve it,” he said.

The Archbishop also highlighted that Crosscare, the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin, has at the request of the HSE, taken over the management of 100-bed facility on Dublin’s Talbot Street which will cater for homeless and vulnerable people who need to cocoon and are unable to do so in existing overcrowded homeless services.

Crosscare’s Food Banks continue to operate and additional food parcels are being delivered to families and individuals across Dublin from the agency’s centre in Blanchardstown.

Dr Martin paid tribute to the Government’s financial measures aimed at trying to keep people going economically. But he said there would always be very vulnerable people who need specific supports.

The Pope, he highlighted, had told the story recently of a policeman who stopped a man during the lockdown in Italy and told him he could not be on the streets and that he must go home. “To which the man replied the street is my home. You will still have people like that,” he said.

Accord’s support lines are open from 9am – 8pm Monday to Friday.  Please see contact details below:

  • Accord Dublin – 01 9059555
  • Accord NI – 028 9568 0151 or 00353 1 531 3331
  • Accord CLG – 01 531 3331

 The three Accord companies – Accord Northern Ireland Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG (Accord NI); Accord Dublin Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG (Accord Dublin); and Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service CLG (Accord CLG), which represents 34 Centres in the State outside of Dublin; all operate in 54 centres throughout the island.

Accord is committed to providing professional support for the pastoral needs of individuals at different stages in their development: in schools, through relationship and sexuality education programmes; by helping couples prepare for the sacrament of marriage; and, to couples and individuals seeking marriage and relationship counselling.

Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv

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