Merchant’s Quay report says homelessness and drugs use on the increase

Coolmine says it saves Government over €6m a year with addiction rehab programmes

Merchant’s Quay Ireland’s report says  its needle-exchange service in Dublin recorded 20,847 client visits in 2012, up almost 2,000 on 2011. Altogether, 3,634 individuals accessed its needle-exchange programme in 2012, of which 558 were new users

Merchant’s Quay Ireland’s report says its needle-exchange service in Dublin recorded 20,847 client visits in 2012, up almost 2,000 on 2011. Altogether, 3,634 individuals accessed its needle-exchange programme in 2012, of which 558 were new users

Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 01:00

Merchant’s Quay Ireland provided more than 76,500 meals last year while its primary healthcare service for homeless people made 3,316 client interventions. The annual report for 2012 of the homeless food service will be launched today by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

It discloses that Merchant’s Quay Ireland’s needle-exchange service in Dublin recorded 20,847 client visits in 2012, up almost 2,000 on 2011.

Altogether, 3,634 individuals accessed its needle-exchange programme in 2012, of which 558 were new users.

Outside Dublin, its Midlands Harm Reduction Outreach Service worked with an average 130 clients a month in 2012, providing over 3,000 needle exchange interventions. Across its residential facilities, there was an increase in the number of people from outside Dublin accessing its services.

Twenty-five per cent of admissions to its St Francis Farm detox unit came from Munster, while 30 per cent of admissions to the St Francis Farm drug- free rehabilitation programme came from the southeast.

Forty-six per cent of those accessing its drug-free rehabilitation service at High Park were from outside Dublin, highlighting the need for detox and rehab facilities across Ireland.

The annual report also says that poly-drug use remains prevalent with 75 per cent of needle-exchange users reporting use of multiple substances. A combination of heroin, benzodiazepines and alcohol was the most common in 2012.

Meanwhile the Coolmine Therapeutic Community says it is “saving the State over €6 million every year by helping up to 1,000 people overcome their addiction and return to contribute to society”.

At a graduation ceremony for 25 participants who completed intensive addiction therapy programmes at Coolmine in Dublin, chief executive Pauline McKeown said their costs were “approximately €3 million” a year.

“Research shows that for every euro we invest in helping our clients, a further €3 would be required to keep a person in prison. So the Government is saving up to €6 million a year by investing in our services.

“We also believe that by helping these people to get back to contributing to society, we are also cutting costs associated with crime for businesses throughout the country.”

She said yesterday’s graduation was a testament to the therapy programme delivered by the Coolmine staff and volunteers.“This is a huge achievement for our clients to overcome their addiction and a great step forward for them and for society. This has been possible thanks to the financial support from the Government and the relevant agencies.”

Coolmine has called on individuals and businesses to help fund essential elements of its therapy programme.

In late 2011 it asked those “who have been touched by the work of Coolmine to help us now and become a monthly donor”, Ms McKeown added.

“These funds will allow us continue to provide a service to some of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our society.”