Creating community awareness remains a core value of Esker House

Representatives from Esker House are pictured following the launch of the Esker Project and freephone helpline on International Women's Day 2024

Representatives from Esker House are pictured following the launch of the Esker Project and freephone helpline on International Women's Day 2024

Creating awareness remains a core value of the Athlone based Esker House Women's Refuge and Domestic Abuse Support Service.

Providing temporary safe accommodation for women and their children and support and information for women experiencing domestic abuse, Head of Services at Esker House, Deirdre Berry, is planning for the future with the delivery of numerous programmes within the community focused on all matters pertaining to domestic abuse.

The Head of Services welcomed recent government funding under the Community Innovation Fund which, complemented by an allocation of €165,000 announced last week, has allowed for the establishment of the Esker Project which will allow the service to focus on certain training initiatives.

"The Esker Project will incorporate a number of training series which will cover topics such as coercive control, post separational abuse, children domestic violence abuse and legal support. We are also resourced to deliver bespoke workshops in schools with regards to health relationships and gendered based violence," Ms Berry remarked.

Esker House has also launched the 'Purple Hand Champion' initiative in recent times, one which offers businesses and community organisations in Athlone and the Midlands region to participate in training, at the culmination of which, they will be in a position to recognise and respond to domestic violent abuse appropriately.

"Once this training is completed the participating business will be awarded a purple hand to display on their premises. This will alert women in the community that the business is a 'Purple Hand Champion' and a safe space for women to gain support and information regarding domestic violent abuse.

"We have had much interest in this campaign and are in the planning stages with the GAA and sporting clubs to host this initiative at their respective locations. Training has already commenced with local councillors and hairdressing business in Athlone.

“The success of this project will rely on public engagement. Too sadly, domestic abuse been a hidden secret in our communities and homes, people did not know what to say or do, people will say it is a private matter.

"One in four women in Ireland experience domestic abuse and we need to let women know where to go for support, we need to empower our community to respond to this, we need to show perpetrators of abuse that abuse of any sort has no place in our community," Ms Berry commented.

Participating local councillor Frankie Keena has acknowledged the importance of the Esker House training initiative.

“I feel the Esker Project and the training it is providing is essential to ensure public representatives are informed and ready to respond appropriately. I am meeting people every day, talking and assisting them with various issues. It is important to be aware of the services available to the community," Cllr Keena said.

Esker House is inviting all local businesses and organisations to participate in this training initiative, the aim being to spread awareness deep into the community.

"We are currently extending an opportunity to become the first 'Purple Hand Champion' to interested parties in Monksland. We will be delivering our 'Purple Hand Champion' training in Monksland Community Centre in the coming weeks and the invitation is extended to all local businesses and services in the locality to attend. This is Monkland’s opportunity to stand in unity with the women of their community and to prove to perpetrators of domestic abuse that such abuse will no longer be tolerated or excepted," Ms Berry added.

Sarah Jayne Brennan, Training and Engagement co-ordinator at Esker House urges people to reach out and engage in this project.

"All it takes is for one person in the organisation, club or group to take an interest, build the momentum, get in touch and get working on tacking this issue.

"If you are interested in getting involved please contact the Training and Community Engagement co-ordinator via email on," Ms Brennan stated.

Esker House also launched their 24-hour freephone helpline earlier this month now operating a 24-Hour Crisis Helpline on 0906474122 or freephone 1800662288.


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