'We need to stop burying our heads in the sand': Cork's Lord Mayor on need to address causes of addiction

'We need to stop burying our heads in the sand': Cork's Lord Mayor on need to address causes of addiction

Pictured is Lord Mayor Cllr Colm Kelleher with Muire O'Farrell and Aishling McCormack, both Sexual Health Centre, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Sexual Health Centre launch of joint community initiative with Cork Local and Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Cork's Lord Mayor has said it's time we stop "burying our heads in the sand" when it comes to addiction issues.

Colm Kelleher made the comments on Friday as he attended the launch of Ireland’s first mobile health service offering support, advice and care for alcohol, drug and sexual health issues at St. Finbarr's Campus, Douglas Road.

Mr Kelleher, whose brother overcame a drug addiction issue said while there are many invitations sent into the Lord Mayor’s office, this was one he had a personal connection to.

“It was something that I wanted to attend myself personally because it is personal to myself and my family.” 

The Lord Mayor said he was very proud of his brother for his road to recovery and said he thought Cork as a community needed to address the problems in a more tangible manner.

“I have seen first hand the vices of substance abuse and addiction. I think it is high time now that here in Ireland we stop taking the typical Irish approach and burying our heads in the sand and we need to start as a society to start having a conversation.

"If we want people to come out and admit that they have a problem, be it gambling, alcohol, substance abuse, whatever it may be, and they take that brave step, we as a community need to ensure that we have provisions in place to meet our obligations as a society. I do believe it is high time the conversation is started on it and we as a society do need to start looking at it.” 

Pictured are, Eleanor Moore, Principal Community Worker Cork South Community Work Department Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Joe Kirby, HSE Drug& Alcohol Services, Triona Healy, Community Worker Cork South Community Work Department Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Dr. Martin Davoren, Executive Director Sexual Health Centre, Priscilla Lynch, Head of Service Primary Care Cork & Kerry HSE and Ciaran Lynch, Chairperson Sexual Health Centre, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Sexual Health Centre launch of joint community initiative with Cork Local and Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Pictured are, Eleanor Moore, Principal Community Worker Cork South Community Work Department Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Joe Kirby, HSE Drug& Alcohol Services, Triona Healy, Community Worker Cork South Community Work Department Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Dr. Martin Davoren, Executive Director Sexual Health Centre, Priscilla Lynch, Head of Service Primary Care Cork & Kerry HSE and Ciaran Lynch, Chairperson Sexual Health Centre, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Sexual Health Centre launch of joint community initiative with Cork Local and Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The Sexual Health Centre launched the joint community initiative with Cork Local and Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces in a landmark partnership for the Cork and Kerry region on Friday. The organisations are leading thw ay on a unique mobile health service that travels to any and every part of Cork and Kerry - making support, information and interventions available to all.

The ‘DASH’ (Drugs, Alcohol & Sexual Health) unit is the first of its kind in Ireland, providing community-wide mobile services such as rapid HIV testing, condom provision, drug and alcohol assessments, and support from trained health promotion professionals.

Pictured are Sexual Health Centre team members, Aishling McCormack and Elinor O'Donovan, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Pictured are Sexual Health Centre team members, Aishling McCormack and Elinor O'Donovan, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre, Dr Martin Davoren, noted that DASH will provide an important link to support for communities across Cork and Kerry: “The aim of the project is to ensure equity of access. We want to break down the barriers that people face in accessing services - be it time, location or cost. DASH is available to all sectors of the community, and is free of charge.” 

Emily Barrett, DASH Project Worker said: “DASH will bring opportunities for informal interventions in every village and town across Cork and Kerry. People deserve to get information and support around their health and wellbeing in a friendly and welcoming environment, and DASH will bridge that gap for a lot of people.” 

Pictured are, Priscilla Lynch, Head of Service Primary Care Cork & Kerry HSE and Lord Mayor Cllr Colm Kelleher, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Pictured are, Priscilla Lynch, Head of Service Primary Care Cork & Kerry HSE and Lord Mayor Cllr Colm Kelleher, at the launch of the Drug, Alcohol and Sexual Health new mobile unit for Cork and Kerry, at St. Finbarrs Campus, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

The cross-sectoral approach of the project is central to its development and delivery, as highlighted by Joe Kirby, Co-ordinator of Cork Local Drug & Alcohol Task Force: “Drugs, alcohol and sexual health impact everyone at some point in their lives. The client groups of each of our organisations can all benefit from the ease of access and diverse expertise at the helm of the DASH project. 

"Importantly, DASH will be available to members of the wider community, who may not have the opportunity or encouragement to consider their own needs around drugs, alcohol and sexual health until the DASH van arrives in their local area.” 

The DASH van is available to visit communities and organisations throughout counties Cork and Kerry. For more information, contact the DASH Project Worker, Emily Barrett at 083 013 2250 or dash@sexualhealthcentre.com

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