By Cian Molloy - 19 July, 2020
"The pandemic's effects are very particularly felt amongst the most vulnerable in society," says ACCORD NI regional director Deirdre O'Rawe.
The Catholic marriage support service Accord has welcomed a grant of UK£40,293 from the Northern Irish Department of Communications that will allow it to maintain its one-to-one telephone counselling service.
The grant, which was made in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund, is badly needed says Accord NI’s regional director Deirdre O’Rawe, as many families are suffering because of the additional tensions, difficulties and lack of escape opportunities available because of the scourge of COVID-19.
“The nature of the pandemic is having a significant impact on everyday life but its effects are very particularly felt amongst the most vulnerable in society,” she said. “Accord NI is delighted to receive this funding and to continue playing a vital role along with other charities and voluntary sector agencies, in combating the impact of Covid-19 on marriages, relationships and families.”
The Relate counselling service also received a grant for its Northern Irish telephone helpline.
According to analysis of calls to the Accord helpline, those couples and families who are coping best in the current climate are those who had the healthiest relationships before the pandemic started. These couples are better at making compromises, and at avoiding criticism of one another.
That said, because of COVID-19, many families are unexpectedly having to deal with financial instability, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorders.
The lockdown meant that face-to-face marriage preparation courses had to be postponed until the end of July and there is now a backlog. Accord Dublin, for example, is due to start offering two-day marriage preparation courses on Friday 7 August, but the first six courses are now booked out and the next available vacancy is for a course starting Friday 28 August.
Accord NI’s free and confidential ‘Relationships Support Phone Line’ for marriages, families and relationships offers support to those experiencing extra pressure due to social restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The support line is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and can be reached on 028 9568 0151 or 00353 1 531 3331
The telephone support line operated south of the border by Accord Ireland is also open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and it can be reached, for the cost of a local number, on: 01 531 3331, 028 9568 0151 and 01 9059 555