Responsibility opens doors

 

The Merchant's Quay Project has been inspired, developed and sponsored since its inception in 1989 by the Franciscan Friars. The project's budget runs to £1.5 million per year and it caters for 5,000 addicts - over one-third of the entire drug-using population of Dublin.

Two hundred people per day are seen by a range of services, such as crisis intervention, a drug-free service, an advocacy service and needle exchange. There is also a "stabilisation" day programme - catering for about 40 people per day - which is funded by FAS and the local Vocational Education Committee. Clients on the stabilisation programme are maintained on methadone, while learning to sort out other issues in their lives.

A 12-bed residential unit offers a 12-week detox programme in which the clients' goal is to become drug-free. Those who succeed may be offered a place on a drug-free farm in Tullow, Co Carlow, where 10 residents at a time live for one year, learning agricultural skills and providing some food for the Merchant's Quay Project. Residents also pursue education through the local community college and psychological growth through group therapy, to address the issues underpinning the addiction. AS and the Department of Justice, while 25 per cent is contributed by benefactors and fund-raising. The Franciscans' main aim is to provide "a legitimacy and respectability that opens doors", says the centre's director, Tony Geoghegan.