ACCORD WATERFORD issued an invitation to helping agencies in Waterford city to come together in order to explore possibilities for greater co-operation and to improve communication between agencies. The seminar was held in St. John’s Pastoral centre on May 25th last.
Representatives from fourteen agencies attended the seminar and many others indicated a willingness to participate but were unable to respond on the night. Among the agencies represented were: ACCEPT, ALANON, CURA, CITIZEN’S ADVICE, FAMILY MINISTRY, FAMILY MEDIATION, GROW, MOOD, MEND, OASIS HOUSE, RAPE CRISIS CENTRE, SOLAS, SAMARITANS and ST. VINCENT DE PAUL.
The seminar was opened by the Mayor of Waterford, Mary Roche who said that the contribution of the many voluntary organizations has greatly benefited the people of Waterford by helping to deliver a more caring and humane society. Bishop Lee, in his address to the gathering, expressed his admiration and appreciation for the work of the various organizations in the city. He offered encouragement and support to each voluntary organization and wished them well in their work of healing and caring.
A representative from each organisation was then invited to make a short presentation on the nature of the service provided. This generated great interest as most of those present would not have been well informed about the work of other agencies. People were genuinely impressed and inspired by the level of commitment, zeal, compassion and altruism which motivated the members of each agency.
The possibility for greater-agency co-operation and support and the potential of this inter-action to enhance the services of each group was immediately recognised. For example building cross-organisation awareness and improving communication between agencies would greatly facilitate and enable referrals from one agency to another. There was agreement that services could be improved by indentifying projects which could be sponsored jointly. For example it was recommended that a directory of helping agencies be published and that an annual conference could be organised jointly. There were calls for regular gatherings of the agencies, and to build a common web data base for relevant organisations.
It is intended that a small co-ordinating committee be appointed to review feedback and to explore further possibilities.
It was apparent that there were greater demands than ever before for the help and support provided by the voluntary caring agencies. It was apparent also that the volunteers in each organisation were highly trained and well qualified to respond to those who were suffering because of economic hardship, life-threatening illness, abuse in all its manifestations, depression, or breakdown in relationships. The social stresses generated by the recession in the economy have led to increased fears of general breakdown in our society. These fears lead to great insecurity and loss of confidence which is manifested in depression or substance abuse of domestic violence. Without the support offered by the various helping agencies the pain could be unbearable for many.
Accord, for example, offers a safe, professional and confidential process, facilitating couples and individuals to explore, reflect upon and resolve difficulties in their marriage and relationship. Accord Counsellors are trained to the highest professional standards. Counselling is arranged by contacting Accord at St. John’s Pastoral Centre.
Accord also provides Marriage Preparation Courses. A Marriage Preparation Course is an opportunity for couples to take time out from the hectic planning of the Wedding Day to focus on how things are between them, to affirm what is going well and to name the areas of their relationship that might need some attention. All of this takes place in the company of other couples preparing for Marriage and with the assistance of trained facilitators, themselves experienced in Marriage. Accord highlights the core elements of relationship and the course concentrates on exploring each of these.
Accord wishes to thank all agencies represented at the seminar. The response was very encouraging and all in Accord are committed to ensuring that the goal of exploring possibilities of greater co-operation between helping agencies will bear fruit.