Pieta Blog - Founder Joan Freeman leaves Pieta House to establish New York-based Solace House

Founder Joan Freeman leaves Pieta House to establish New York-based Solace House

Date: 31st October 2017

Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm charity, announced today (31 October 2017) that its founder and former CEO, Senator Joan Freeman, will leave the organisation as of December 31, 2017. Senator Freeman will be focusing her efforts on growing the suicide and self-harm service, Solace House, which she founded in 2014 to serve the Irish Diaspora and others in
New York.

Joan Freeman founded Pieta House in Ireland in 2006, when it opened its first centre in Lucan, Co. Dublin. During her nine years as CEO, Pieta House helped over (20,000) people in nine centres throughout the country. Senator Freeman was the creator of and instrumental in, the phenomenal growth of Darkness Into Light, the charity’s annual flagship fundraising and awareness event, that is today the single biggest fundraising event in the country.

Senator Freeman’s new venture, Solace House, will provide a free of charge, crisis intervention counselling service to those who experience suicidal ideation or engage in selfharm. Her focus will be on the Irish Diaspora based in New York, with the expectation of growing the service in other cities across America. Solace House will be officially launched in November. Solace House begins its new undertaking with its first office located at, and in cooperation with, the New York Irish Center in Queens in New York City.

“I am so grateful for the generosity, courage and vision of the Pieta Board who allowed me to work in America to identify and meet the need for “Helping The Irish Wherever They Are,” says Senator Freeman. “At this same time I also want to again acknowledge everyone who volunteered their time and efforts in making Pieta House in Ireland the incredible organisaiton it has become today.”

“Pieta House would not exist except for the courage of the men, women and children who came through our service and not only survived, but thrived.” Brian Higgins, CEO of Pieta House, says: “The people of Ireland will be forever grateful to Joan Freeman, our founder and former CEO, for her enormous contribution to mental health services in Ireland. It was her desire and drive to do something to help people who were suicidal that resulted in Pieta House becoming the household name that it is today.”

Today, Pieta House has over 240 therapists delivering counselling services, free of charge, in fifteen locations nationwide. The service will shortly be relocating its headquarters to Tallaght, and a new treatment centre is due to open in Wexford before the end of 2017, and a new location for our Cork centre will open in mid 2018.

Senator Freeman was appointed to the Seanad by the former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny on the recommendation of Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin in May 2016 and has since campaigned for improving child mental health services. Most recently, she was appointed Chair of the new Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health.