Travelling drugs, alcohol and sexual health unit launched in Cork and Kerry

A new mobile unit is set to travel around Cork and Kerry to provide rapid HIV testing, condom provision, and drug and alcohol assessments
Travelling drugs, alcohol and sexual health unit launched in Cork and Kerry

Olivia Kelleher

A new mobile unit is set to travel around Cork and Kerry to provide rapid HIV testing, condom provision, drug and alcohol assessments and support from trained health promotion professionals as part of a first of its kind venture in the region.

The Sexual Health Centre in Cork has launched a joint community initiative with Cork Local and Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces.

The mobile health service will travel to any and every part of Cork and Kerry — making support, information and interventions available to all.

DASH is available to all sectors of the community, and is free of charge

The ‘DASH’ (Drugs, Alcohol & Sexual Health) unit was launched at St Finbarr’s Campus in Cork city on Friday.

Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre, Dr Martin Davoren, said 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.”

'Bridge that gap'

Emily Barrett, DASH project worker said that the unit will bring opportunities for informal interventions in every village and town across the two counties.

“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.”

Joe Kirby, co-ordinator of Cork Local Drug & Alcohol Task Force, said that the cross-sectoral approach of the project is central to its development and delivery.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Overlap

The HSE’s head of service for primary care for Cork and Kerry, Priscilla Lynch, said that drugs, alcohol and sexual health services have operated exclusively, even though there is a lot of overlap in the issues that can come up for service users.

“The arrival of DASH marks a turning point in how we think about service provision in these areas across the region. It pools our expertise and brings services to people so that comprehensive, accessible supports are truly available to all.”

The DASH van is available to visit communities and organisations throughout counties Cork and Kerry. For more information, contact Dash at dash@sexualhealthcentre.com.

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