Monday, 28th November 2011
30th Anniversary of Ireland’s Longest-Running Community Drugs Project
– BYAP launches Research Reports –
Ireland’s longest-running community drugs project today (28.11.11) launched two reports on substance misuse to mark the final event of the celebrations that have marked its 30th year. According to Ballymun Youth Action Project (BYAP) these reports can make significant contributions to our understanding of the current drug situation as it affects local communities.
BYAP was founded by local people in 1981 after three young people from Ballymun had died from drugs-related causes. Over the past 30 years, the Project has offered a community-based response to drug and alcohol misuse.
During today’s event, BYAP launched two reports produced as part of its 30th celebrations: ‘Seen but not Heard? – Thirty Years of Communities Responding to Drugs’ and ‘Fact or Fiction – A Study of Attitudes to Alcohol and Related Issues among Young People in the Ballymun Area’. The first report presents the findings of a conference on substance misuse which took place in Dublin Castle in March of this year. The second report highlights young people’s attitudes to drugs and alcohol related issues and offers a detailed picture of their experiences that helps to ‘personalise’ the much larger general surveys that are the norm for research in Ireland.
According to Dermot King, Director of BYAP, the two reports can make significant contributions to our understanding of the current drug situation as it affects local communities.
“Taken together, the two reports launched today offer a range of important insights into the drugs problem in Ireland today. In particular, the conference report highlights how drug use affects local communities and captures the experience of practitioners, academics and media professionals. It outlines how substance misuse has changed over the decades and highlights the need for statutory, voluntary and community sectors to work together in order to offer a holistic, more joined-up approach to the drugs problem.
“We believe that these two reports can contribute to an increased understanding of the drugs problem in Ireland today. They offer a snapshot of the main issues affecting local communities and, as such, can serve as a resource for policy makers, academics and social workers.”
Today’s anniversary event marked the culmination of a programme of activities organised to mark the 30th year of BYAP and to highlight the important work done by local communities in battling substance misuse.
“Ballymun Youth Action Project was founded at a time when heroin had begun to ravage entire communities, and Ireland was in the midst of a crippling recession,” said Mr. King. “We were the first project of our kind in Ireland: founded by members of the local community to deal directly with local problems caused by drug and alcohol misuse.
“Over the years, we’ve seen the nature of addiction issues change and new issues have emerged as time has passed. Because we’re grounded in the local community, we’re able to respond quickly to changing issues and reach out to people who may be wary of accessing support.
“We offer services to all ages, and we do outreach work in schools and prisons. In addition to helping drug users, we also provide support services for their families. We have a strong focus on allowing people to make changes in their lives rather than staying stuck, and we strongly support the community in their work of prevention and intervention as responses to drugs and alcohol use.
“Like many communities, we are very concerned about the current economic situation in Ireland,” said Mr. King. “There is a very real risk that frontline services provided within local communities will be lost. This would be a tragedy for communities, and those affected by drug misuse. Our experience has shown that community responses can play a vital role in tackling the drugs and alcohol problem in Ireland.
“The voice that comes from within communities affected by drugs and alcohol will continue to provide crucial insight and understanding in how to deal with these issues,” said Mr. King. “We hope that our continued work will be further testimony to that truth.”
The reports, ‘Seen but not Heard? – Thirty Years of Communities Responding to Drugs’ and ‘Fact or Fiction – A Study of Attitudes to Alcohol and Related Issues among Young People in the Ballymun Area’ can be downloaded at: http://wp.me/p1v028-fL.