A MAJOR (Defective Concrete Blocks- DCB) mica information and health and wellbeing supports awareness week is set to get underway across Inishowen next week, with an open event in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel for the public on Thursday, December 1st.

The week is being organised by the IFAN [Inishowen Family Action Network] Mica Sub Group in collaboration with Inishowen Development Partnership(IDP) and is set to raise awareness of the various supports that are available for mica homeowners and families in the peninsula.

A variety of events will be taking place throughout the week with community groups and IFAN members such as Lifeline Inishowen, Spraoi agus Sport, Moville Family Support Centre, Parents support organisations, and Insight Inishowen all joining in.

This follows on from the major conference held in Letterkenny last week with experts outlining the science and trauma that defective concrete blocks have caused and will continue to affect thousands of families in Donegal and beyond.

The week will accumulate in a ‘Mica Information Night’ on Thursday, December 1, at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana. Here people will be able to learn what is there in the community that they can avail of, with a social aspect to the evening as well.  

The Mica Action Group (MAG) will also be giving a presentation on the night of the step-by-step process of the Redress Scheme and providing people with all the up to date information. They will also have a question and answer session for anyone who wants to find out more.

Lisa Hone, Chairperson of MAG, said it will be a good opportunity for people to engage with the group first-hand and get all the information that they have available to them.

“We hope to be able to simplify the process as much as possible for people and maybe appeal to the cohort of people who aren’t as tech savvy and be of some assistance to them,” explained Lisa.

“The mica week will be a great opportunity for community groups and organisations to show the great work they are doing and the variety of supports they have available. I really cannot commend the grassroots organisations enough.

“ The redress process causes immense strain on people and the community groups are doing their best to support people through it.”

One of the groups, and IFAN mica subgroup members, which has been at the fore of the community mica response, is Greencastle Community Centre. They have a range of events taking place throughout the week, including a family mindfulness session and starting their own mica support group. They are also working in collaboration with ChangeMakers to host a focus group on housing as a human right. They will also have an information stand at the mica night on December 1.

Susan Logue, Manager of the Greencastle Centre, said the community and voluntary sector in Inishowen have been working tirelessly to assist those affected by defective concrete blocks in any way possible. Staff at the centre also continue to assist members of the community with their application for the defective block scheme.

Similarly the Exchange and Insight Inishowen have been at the fore of the mica support within the community for the last number of years. Ruth Garvey Williams Chairperson of both The Exchange and Insight Inishowen said this is not a problem that is going away anytime soon.

As part of (DCB) mica week, Insight Inishowen are hosting a series of wellbeing talks focussing on stress control with Dr Christina Corbett. Ruth believes ‘mica week’ is vital to make people more aware of what is available on their doorstep.

“The mica week will be a really important time to remind a lot of people of the supports that are available in their community,” explained Ruth.

“Mica (Defective Concrete Blocks), unfortunately, is a long term challenge and it is not going to go away anytime soon so we need to be doing everything we can to provide long term support in a practical way.”

“We believe there is a building mental health crisis out there and coming down the line for some of these families and we want to be able to showcase the supports that they can avail of.”

Denise McCool, IDP

Denise McCool, Community Development Team Lead with IDP, said the mica week – and in particular the mica information night – will be a great opportunity to showcase the range of supports that are out there for families.

“We believe there is a building mental health crisis out there and coming down the line for some of these families and we want to be able to showcase the supports that they can avail of as well as encouraging them to take the time out to look after their own wellbeing and mental health.

“As we have all heard from families, Mica can become so consuming and its affecting the quality of their everyday lives, living in homes that are not fit for purpose.  There are parents and young people out there under stress, we want to try make the supports more accessible and known to them,” added Denise.

One of the supports that has been available to mica families, supported by Tusla, is the free counselling service by Lifeline Inishowen and Moville FRC, and co-ordinated by IDP.

Mary Doherty [M] of Lifeline Inishowen said their qualified counsellors Roma Reddin and Marie Burke are providing adults and children affected by mica with free counselling sessions.

As part of mica week Lifeline Inishowen will be holding a coffee morning on Saturday, December 3 from 10am until 2pm to highlight their free counselling service.

“Counselling sessions are a way of making the stress of having defective blocks in your own more manageable,” explained Mary.

“Mica affects the whole family from mum inside the home to dad in his workplace to the child going to school. It is constant and there is no escaping it. Through our adult and child counsellors we can provide free counselling here in Carn, or at outreach centres in Buncrana and Moville. We can also provide evening appointments,” she added.

Mary also explained that as part of their mica supports they are providing group therapy sessions at an Inishowen primary school thanks to support from Tulsa and IDP. She said this has had a lot of engagement and they are hoping to roll out it to more schools soon.

FREE Trauma workshop for Teachers and Early Years Providers

IDP’s CE childcare supervisor Pauline Coyle explains that mica is becoming a normal conversation amongst even early years children in Inishowen. As part of the mica week IDP have arranged for child and adolescent psychotherapist Hayley Rice to speak to early years childcare workers and teachers.

The free webinar entitled ‘An Introduction to trauma’ is on Wednesday November 30 from 7-8.30pm is open to all teachers and childcare workers.

“The webinar will give teachers and early years providers a helping hand on how to talk to and help children going through the stressful defective concrete blocks process,” explained Pauline.

“We are hearing more and more about the trauma that children and young people are going through particularly if their family home has to be demolished – it is so much for them to cope with but unfortunately so many children are going through this and experiencing this.”

To book your place on the free webinar email pauline@inishowen.ie

Meanwhile to see a full calendar of events for the mica week and to reserve your spot at the DCB/Mica Awareness Night in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel on December 1 go to www.inishowen.ie/ifan-mica-awareness-evening or email rachel@inishowen.ie

Booking for the event is not essential, however it is advised.


Book your free spot now.