Minister Brennan praises groups that provide emotional and practical support

More than 70,000 people each year receive marriage, child and bereavement counselling from state supported voluntary groups, according to Minister for Social Affairs, Seamus Brennan. He was speaking at the launch of the Family Support Agency's Strategic Plan 2007-2009, which examines the expansion of services for families and communities. By Tom Rowe.


A review by Petrus Consulting on the Family Support Agency's scheme of 'Grants to Voluntary Organisations providing marrige, child and breavement counselling services' found that over half of the 544 organisations which recieved grants did not charge for their services. Their total funding this year is €10 million, while the average cost per intervention has been only €117. This refers to the cost of supporting a client through the whole process of counselling, which can number several sessions. The review noted that none of this would have been possible without the volunteers who make the investment so much more cost effective.

For the Minister the results of the review vindicated the increased investment in the counselling grants scheme. With the profund changes families in Ireland have undergone in recent years, due to the pressures of economic success, the Family Support Agency has a crucial role to play. The increasing number of families in the country will also increase the need for services provided by and supported by the Agency, which will also faciliate the integration of immigrants, in a multicultural and multilingual context.

Brennan said the focus of the Agency's Strategic Plan 2007-2009 is to build on the successes it has achieved since its establishment in 2003 by refining the existing programmes; strengthing the co-operation between the various parts of the Agency, and between the Agency and other organisations working in related areas; and building up the capacity of the organisation.