By Finian Coghlan
ONE OF the county’s biggest charity drives –Darkness into Light – will have to sit it out for a second year, despite demand on counseling in Kildare being up by 25 per cent.
This weekend should have witnessed the return of the dawn walk for Pieta House, but nevertheless, local organizer Richard Daly has asked potential participants to take “a socially distanced walk…and throw a few bob at them”.
Two years ago the headmaster at Athy College was able to call on one-fifth of the entire population of the town to step into the Spring light and raise €20,000 for the mental health charity which – despite Covid – was able to help 341 people in Kildare last year, as well as providing 5,562 hours of counselling in the last two years.
“It’s not what it used to be,” lamented Mr Daly, “the walk is not on, so please don’t turn up, but you can do a socially distanced walk”.
He urged Kildare people to still sign up at darknessintolight.ie and take part this Saturday night/Sunday morning (9 May).
“Log on and buy a t-shirt, buy a Pieta mask, a dog lead, make a donation,” he suggested.
“Many people will walk to greet the dawn, and some will do it with a few [socially distanced] friends,” said Mr Daly.
“You could really feel part of a community when you were joined by a few thousand people,” he said.
This year again, participants can walk, run, swim, hike, bike on their own or simply share ‘One Sunrise Together’ for Darkness Into Light, as the traditional organised walks are not possible due to the continued restrictions.
This would have been the charity’s 10th year, during which time it grew from 400 people in Phoenix Park, to a staggering 200,000 in 2019
One year on from when the country went into lockdown, Pieta’s services are in demand more than ever and they need the public’s support.
By taking part in Darkness Into Light, participants will unite in every corner of Ireland to help shine a light on suicide and self-harm while raising vital funds for Pieta’s lifesaving services.
Last year when it wasn’t possible to all walk together Pieta faced a funding crisis, but Ireland came together as one community and got behind the event, with hundreds of thousands rising at dawn and sharing sunrise moments from across the country.
The support that shone through was nothing short of amazing with over €4 million raised following a tremendous public fundraising effort to ensure Pieta could continue to deliver their services through 2020.
In 2021, Covid-19 continues to impact not only the nations physical health but its mental health too; it has impacted everything from people’s financial stability to their social habits.
People are struggling with loneliness; a fact that is worsened with physical distance measures in place, and Pieta is expecting the pandemic burden to have far reaching implications throughout 2021.
Pieta’s counselling services have remained available throughout lockdown with phone, video and face-to-face appointments. In 2020, Pieta delivered over 52,000 hours of therapy and answered over 70,000 calls and texts for help through their 24/7 crisis helpline.