An initiative by Sligo Social Services in assisting homeless people in the area who have alcohol or drug issues, is trying to get them involved in group projects which have multiple benefits. Funded by the North West Regional Drug Task Force, a number of group projects by the organisation are being undertaken in the region.
One such project is an organic gardening programme for homeless men held in the Maryville Emergency Hostel, located in Finisklin, where service users are planting a range of flowers and vegetables in a polytunnel. Last year saw Sligo Social Services work with 61 individuals through one-to-one support and group work.
Two thirds of these people were supported in finding alternate or new accommodation.
Sligo Social Services provides support to people who are homeless in three facilities in Sligo; Maryville Emergency Hostel and resettlement service, Ballytivnan Temporary Accommodation and Housing Advice Service at Charles Street.
The organic gardening programme is one of the programmes run at the Emergency Hostel for homeless men. For the participants, they will hopefully grow in confidence and self esteem, learn respect for others and embark on how to adapt to stresses in their lives. Important also is communication, group participation and relaxation.
Hopefully they might find new aspirations in life and have the chance to recognise prior skills and learn new skills, and express their creativity.
Similar projects have been successful in assisting people who find themselves homeless and with an addiction. Many are assisted in halting the impact of drugs or alcohol on their lives by finding options for recovery.
Apart from addressing these issues, Sligo Social Services also aims to improve the overall health of service users by focusing on personal factors such as diet and nutrition, stress management, employment status and living conditions.
Sligo Social Services is eager to point out that homelessness is very prevalent in today’s society and it can happen to many people, for many reasons. For some, substance abuse is a result of homelessness rather than a cause.
The organisation identified that substance misuse was a recurring problem for many people accessing its services and it found that a dedicated Substance Misuse Worker was necessary to deal with this problem. In 2009, this was made possible
when the North West Regional Drugs Task Force provided funding and administrative support for the position.
The Substance Misuse Worker seeks to improve the health and overall well-being of substance misusers who are homeless.
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