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Pieta suffers €714k loss after Darkness into Light cancelled

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Darkness into Light event

Darkness into Light event

Darkness into Light event

Suicide prevention charity Pieta House recorded losses of more than €710,000 last year after missing its targeted income from its annual flagship Darkness into Light event.

That is according to the charity's annual report for 2019, which shows that Pieta House's income from Darkness into Light last year totalled €5.2m.

However, this was a drop of €810,000 on the 2018 total of €6.1m. The drop in income from Darkness into Light combined with increased costs contributed to the €714,728 operating loss for last year.

This loss followed a surplus of €726,832 in 2018 - a negative swing of €1.44m over the two years.

As a result of Covid-19, Pieta House was forced to cancel Darkness into Light this year.

Combined with the "profound" impact of the pandemic on the charity's finances, it announced cutbacks including wage reductions of up to 30pc, redundancies and a cut-back in services.

Risk

Yesterday, a Pieta House spokesperson said: "Due to the success of our 'Sunrise' appeal we were able to retain and redeploy almost all of the clinical support staff who had been at risk of redundancy and we were also able to restore staff pay with effect from June 1."

He stated: "We raised €4m via the Late Late Show/Sunrise appeal but, given that 80pc of our funds come from the generosity of our supporters, we continue to fundraise and launched our FeelGood campaign at the start of July."

The HSE has also increased its funding of Pieta House this year to €2.5m in response to the collapse in revenues streams.

Established in 2006, the charity supports 9,000 people with its services across Ireland. One in four of the charity's clients has tried to take their own life in the past and 50pc of clients are recognised as being at high risk.

Last year it cost €2.5m to run Darkness into Light, which involved 180,000 people walking for the event in 160 venues across the country.

The charity last year generated €13.37m in income while its expenditure rose by 9pc - from €12.67m to €14.09m.

In its annual report, Pieta House chairman Fergus Clancy said: "The experience of 2019 and particularly the early part of 2020 demonstrates just how inappropriate it is to have a national service like suicide prevention so heavily dependent on public fundraising."

Mr Clancy said Pieta House receives 15pc of its annual funding from the State and the remainder from the Irish people.

Mr Clancy stated: "The lack of State funding threatens continuity of service of very vulnerable clients and this needs to change."

This year the charity aims to generate funds of €12.5m to support forecasted costs of €12.6m.