News archive 2011

ACCORD calls on Minister Fitzgerald to retain funding at 2011 levels

ACCORD calls on Minister Fitzgerald to retain funding at 2011 levels

  • Record increase in demand by couples for ACCORD’s counselling sessions

In its pre-budget message to Minister Frances Fitzgerald, ACCORD, the Catholic Counselling agency, has asked that government funding for the agency be retained at 2011 levels or that cuts deemed necessary by the Minister be minimal.

ACCORD findings indicate that two thirds of almost 4,000 couples who sought help in the first six months of 2011 had financial concerns. A further 30% of clients said that finance was a serious issue for them. Families and local communities are already in difficulty and further cuts will mean additional stress and pressure on relationships.

Ruth Barror, National Director of ACCORD said: “It is particularly important in these times that couples experiencing difficulties are able to access help.  The average contribution paid by clients in 2011 for a professional service was under €12.  Given their financial pressures , many couples simply cannot pay the going rate for a session which can be anything from €50 – €70.”

ACCORD is only in a position to offer its low rate because of the voluntary professional services donated by ACCORD members, the support of the Irish Episcopal Conference and Government funding.   Access to ACCORD services is based on a couple’s needs and not their ability to pay.  ACCORD wishes to continue with this approach.

“We are concerned that if we are forced to cut back on our services many couples who need help will not get it.   People affected by the economic downturn will prioritise bread and butter issues over counselling which could be of special benefit to help them face the devastating effects on their relationships of redundancy, unemployment and a drop in living standards” Ms Barror continued.

In its submission to Minister Fitzgerald ACCORD has fully acknowledged government support for its services in the past and have highlighted the value for money which ACCORD achieves from all funding received.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

Since 2008 ACCORD has recorded a year-on-year decrease in the demand by couples for marriage preparation, with 16,317 hours being provided in 2010.  This decrease reflects both a reduction in the numbers of couples getting married and, in addition, it is symptomatic of the growing numbers of alternative providers of marriage preparation courses.

ACCORD’s 800 professional counsellors and facilitators voluntarily provide services in the key relationship areas of marriage counselling and marriage education (i.e. preparation).  ACCORD’s 60 centres are based in the North and South and its services are offered regardless of a person’s ability to pay.  This is particularly important for families in these difficult economic times.

ACCORD is an agency of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference which provides a nationwide (60 centres North and South) service to couples preparing for or seeking a deeper commitment within the sacrament of marriage.

ACCORD responds to the challenges facing Christian marriage today and affirms its value in an ever-changing world.  It empowers couples to explore and reflect on:  the essential elements of their marriage; and the purpose and value of their choices within a committed relationship.  See www.accord.ie.

Further information:

Ms Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer, 087 310 4444

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