THE AISLING CENTRE

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During Covid-19, many charities and support groups have had to abruptly end the services they provide. In a time where support was needed more than ever, young adults affected by the pandemic have struggled. 

 

Bernie and Adele work at The Aisling Centre, who have been providing a professional counselling and psychotherapy service offering hope, healing and growth to the people of Co Fermanagh and the surrounding area for more than 20 years. They have been receiving grants from the Blank Santa initiative for nearly a decade and last year did a programme to support children and young adults who were struggling with the impact of Covid-19. 

 

As Adele explains, “A teenager we worked with had suffered a tragic death in the family during the Covid-19 pandemic. We were initially able to offer virtual sessions, and later in person sessions, to give this child the support they needed. They were struggling to leave the bedroom and were feeling increasingly isolated and anxious. Therapy helped her understand her feelings and as we worked through some alternative coping strategies, the child reported back that the darker feelings had gone and she wasn’t feeling as anxious. The most important thing was that she didn’t feel alone.” 

Using a type of therapy called play therapy, a therapy that uses play and creative mediums, the Aisling Centre plan to continue using the Black Santa money that they will receive this year to support young children affected by the pandemic. 

 

“Loss has been a big issue for Children. We have seen a big change in the children, where they are suffering from a lot more anxiety, so we would hope that we can continue to spend the money supporting these children,” said Bernie. 

 

Just listening to the services the Aisling Centre provides makes you realise how important the Black Santa initiative is for charities, which Bernie wholeheartedly agrees with.  

“We have to say it's huge. It enables us to do small but very significant work and allows us to work with people we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. I think last year we found it even more valuable. Back Santa has been very flexible and allows us to direct the money to the project it needs to go to and last year it was lifesaving during Covid for young people.”

 

2022 will likely be another tough year for charities. With the impact of Covid not going away anytime soon, the Black Santa initiative will be vital in supporting many charities across the country. It is vital that they get the support required so that no child ever has to feel alone.