The University of Galway Medicine Society’s ‘Shave a Life’ fundraiser has raised over €29,000 for the Galway Samaritans.
Some 25 volunteers shaved or dyed their hair in the Quays Bar on 9 February in aid of the mental health charity.
First-year medicine student John Kilgannon shaved his head at the event.
“The goal of the campaign is to raise as much money for the Galway Samaritans, and then hopefully to destigmatise talking about mental health, and to make people feel like it’s not embarrassing to talk about,” he said.
John said that the volunteers are grateful for the huge support from their course, the University and their friends. He appeals to anyone who can spare “even one euro” to donate to this worthy cause.
“If we can get one more person to open up and feel comfortable, then we feel like it’s been a successful campaign.”
MedSoc Auditor Ciara Murray said, “we really want to help [Samaritans] to help our students with the money that’s being raised.”
She said that funding is needed to enable the Galway Samaritans to continue providing valuable support to the student community.
“They really do save lives and we are just very happy to be involved with the very brave students who are shaving their heads and dying their hair,” she added.
Galway Samaritans volunteer Mary Nee said the group is delighted with the event and that fundraising is essential for the charity, which costs around €80,000 a year to run.
“We actively listen to the people who call us. People would call us who are going through some kind of trauma in their lives.
“We help them to explore what’s going on for them. We hope that by the end of the call they have with us that they might come to some solution for themselves, or some way to move forward, to just take the next step.
“And we often have callers who’ll call us over a few months or even longer when they are going through a particularly difficult time in their lives. And in Galway we have just under a thousand contacts every week.”
Heather O’Hagan, a 19-year-old first-year medicine student also shaved her head. She highlighted the importance of raising funds for the work carried out by Galway Samaritans.
“We’ve been working with MedSoc to organise the event and it’s a charity really close to our hearts,” she said.
Taylor Mullins, a 21-year-old final-year creative writing student shaved their head at the event. Taylor says that they were inspired to get involved because funding enables this non-profit group to help people with mental health issues.
“It’s so important to bring awareness to mental health problems and people who help with that kind of thing. Therapies also very expensive so this is such an accessible and affordable way for people to get that kind of help.”
Donations can still be made to MedSoc’s ‘Shave a Life’ campaign via iDonate.