The Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Outreach Project was established in 1998 to provide a response to local drug-related issues. As such, the work of the Project has and will evolve, in line with changing issues and needs, but can be broadly summarised as “the provision of a range of rehabilitative, therapeutic, educational, employment, and reintegration supports and opportunities for individuals and communities affected by addiction.”
In December 1998 DROP was incorporated as a registered limited company, and in March 1999 FAS approved the Project as a Community Employment Scheme Sponsor with 40 places. This was agreed under the terms of the National Drug Strategy Team’s recommendation to harness Community Employment as a vehicle to provide opportunities for drug users.
The Project was based in Centenary House, an East Coast Area Health Service Executive premises. In January 2000, the local Pathfinders group, which provided educational and diversionary support for clients of the local Health Board Drugs and Aids Clinic, became integrated into DROP. In March 2000 the Board of Management tendered for financial support from the Local Drugs Task Force to employ a Project Manager. A Manager was employed in 2000. This position is funded by the Local Drugs Task Force.
In November 2000 DROP leased new premises at 45 Upper Georges Street and the administrative and management staff relocated to these premises, with financial assistance from the National Drugs Strategy Team. In March 2001 a Co-ordinator for the Morning Programme was employed. This position was funded through the East Coast Area Health Services Executive as a part of the DROP Day Care Services. A Trainee Project Worker was employed, initially on the basis of a JI position through FAS and the Southside Partnership. This JI position was later replaced by two full time Project Workers, funded through the Health Board. Health Board funding is now mainstreamed.
A Drug Prevention Education Worker is also employed in DROP, this funding is through the Department of Education and Science Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund, and the work is conducted in partnership with the Local Drugs Task Force’s Education and Prevention Subcommittee. This cements the working relationships between all stakeholders; Task Force, Dept of Education and Science, Fas, the Health Service Executive and the Community.
Once established in suitable premises, and adequately staffed, DROP embarked upon its structured education, training and rehabilitation work programme for stabilising drug users. The new Morning Programme was launched in August 2001, and drew on effective methods of intervention and motivation researched from programmes in Ireland and the UK. This Morning Programme continues to work with stabilised drug users, and continues to evolve, along with all knowledge, experience, methodologies and modalities in the field of Addiction.
At the start of its time as a CE Sponsor, DROP was responsible for two distinct elements of a single Community Employment Scheme.
1.) The internal Morning Programme had up to 12 places available for people wishing to engage in drug stabilisation and rehabilitation (10 for participants, 2 for support staff).
2.) The external Outreach Scheme placed up to 28 people as CE participants in host agencies, distributed around the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown area.
This method of operation remains the same, although there have been changes in the numbers of places allocated to DROP. As part of a review conducted with FAS, DROP decided to re-focus to ensure that its CE scheme was more distinctly and directly addressing drugs-related issues. The number of places was reduced from 40, and DROP ensured that those places were allocated either to people wishing to enter recovery through the internal rehabilitation scheme, or to people in recovery or otherwise affected by drugs-related issues, who would be placed on the external CE scheme. Host projects would be themselves involved in addressing drug-related issues.
In 2004 DROP extended their lease to include the middle floor, which meant we now leased the entire building. In 2003 DROP began negotiations to lease the entire premises. This allowed us the space to provide a second drug rehabilitation service for local drug users, the Oasis Afternoon Programme. In 2005 the Oasis Afternoon Programme expanded to provide support for any drug user at any stage of their drug use thus providing DROP’s first low threshold service. This Afternoon Programme operated as a distinct and separate service to the Day Programme. The Afternoon Programme became reduced and eventually shut. In 2008 each rehabilitation service recruited a Team Leader and the Rehabilitative Day Services increased it’s CE Support Staff, it’s working week and it’s number of services. DROP used the funding from the Afternoon Programme to develop a appointment based Afternoon Service, Drug Free Support Service and a Family Support Service.
Drop submitted a proposal, which was successful, to the NDST to provide rehabilitative services for Cocaine/Poly-drug Users. This service commenced in 2007 and originally this service operated for 16hours per week. The service has since expanded to three day per week in response to the demand from service users.
During 2008, our tenth anniversary, we undertook an organisational review. The review examined the external factors in which drop had operated for 10 years, changing trends in society, in drug use and in drug policy at national level in Ireland and at the development of DROP’s highly reputable services and provision.
This review led to the development of our first ever strategic plan. DROP began the initial stages of it’s Strategic Planning Process by hosting several organisational Days where all the staff and Management Committee came together to look at the past ten years work and create a vision for the future. In 2010 DROP’s Strategic Plan was launched and a solid work plan for the next three years developed.