There will be no downgrading of Pieta centres, as the charity announced that it will be employing additional therapists and redeploying admin staff who had been at risk of redundancy.

Pieta, Ireland’s national suicide and self-harm prevention charity, has confirmed that its 15 centres plus four outreach centres will not be downgraded or closed following an internal financial and operational review.

Pieta moved its delivery of therapy for those experiencing suicidal ideation, self-harm and those bereaved by suicide to over the phone in March following COVID-19 restrictions, and also continues to support those in immediate crisis through the 24/7 crisis helpline.

The postponement, due to COVID-19, of Pieta’s flagship fundraiser Darkness into Light, proudly supported by Electric Ireland, left the charity with a very significant funding gap. Pieta relies on the public for 80 percent of its funding to ensure it can provide its national mental health service free of charge. The people of Ireland responded to the challenging financial situation with generous support for the ‘Sunrise’ appeal which, along with a number of other initiatives, raised an incredible €6 million and significant awareness for Pieta.

These funds, together with the Government wage subsidy scheme, increased support from the HSE and a 30 percent pay cut to staff from April to June of this year, means that Pieta is in an improved financial position.

Key points arising from the review include that all 15 Pieta centres, plus its four outreach centres, are to remain open. There will be no downgrading of any centres. Centre hours will be restored back up to January 2020 levels. From next month, Pieta will engage in a phased reopening of centres for staff and will resume face-to-face counselling services from September, in accordance with Government guidelines post-COVID, 14 additional ‘full-time equivalent’ therapists will be employed, eight will support face-to-face counselling and six will join the helpline team to meet the increased demand, 10 full-time equivalent Centre Manager roles and 33 Clinical Support roles, that were identified at risk of redundancy in April 2020, will now be redeployed. From July 1, pay for all staff will be restored to pre-COVID levels, while the HSE has agreed to provide Pieta with additional funding of €114,608 per month, commencing in July. This funding must be spent on supporting the provision of 300 hours per week of therapy to high risk clients. Pieta will also be engaging with Government and the HSE on a sustainable funding model for the delivery of services.

“I want to express my gratitude to the Pieta team and to our supporters across the country for their help, support and patience over recent weeks,” speaking about the Financial Review, Pieta CEO, Elaine Austin, said.

“Due to the overwhelming generosity and kindness of the people of Ireland, and increased support from the HSE and our corporate partnerships, Pieta is now in a more secure financial position, and we can confirm that our vital services will continue to be delivered across all of our Centres nationwide. The support has been unparalleled and very humbling. We know people need our service now more than ever in these times of crisis, and it is important that people know that we are here and they are not alone.”

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