The ‘Please Talk’ student support campaign looks set to retain its funding despite widespread budget cuts to other government funded agencies.
The nationwide campaign, which originated in UCD, has recived nearly €100,000 in funding since its inception in 2007, following the deaths by suicide of a number of UCD students. The campaign encourages students to contact counselling services should they feel depressed at any stage during the college year. This is done primarily through the pleasetalk.ie website.
Please Talk is funded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), which is in turn funded by the Health Services Executive (HSE).
Geoff Day, Director of NOSP, outlined the process by which Please Talk receives its funding: “The funding is made available through the HSE’s innovation fund. We’re not allowed to reduce that even though we’ve made reductions in all of our other budgets.”
Although funding has not been cut, Day pointed out that unused funding from last year had been carried over into the operational budget for this year. Therefore there has been a reduction in the gross originally provided for the campaign, thought to have been in the region of €112,000.
“Please Talk came in with a revised costing because they carried over some funding from last year which they didn’t use, so we adjusted. But we have still funded them fully in terms of helping them extend to all the colleges in Ireland. There’s no cut, but they reduced the amount of money they needed this year by carrying over money from last year. That’s normal practice.”
Despite funding Please Talk, NOSP has no operational involvement or any supervisory role in the distribution of funds. Day confirmed that NOSP “do not get involved in the day to day operations of all of our projects.”
Day was anxious to state his support for the campaign, describing Please Talk as “an important initiative taken by students themselves” and concluded that Please Talk was “from our point of view, really positive. It’s a simple way of saying to people, ‘here’s what’s available’.”
When requested by The University Observer to provide a breakdown of the distribution of funds received by Please Talk, campaign agent Barry Colfer responded that the “funding is used primarily for items including the design, production, and distribution of the thousands of different materials – badges, pens, t-shirts, fliers, mugs, banners, balloons, material holders, et cetera – used to promote the campaign including postage to campuses across the country, as well as web expenses, pay cost and the costs associated with traveling to campuses and committee meetings throughout Ireland.”