People who receive drug and alcohol services have been sharing their experiences to help improve services and meet the needs of those who use them.
At a recent workshop, the service user group from Drugs and Alcohol Intervention Services for Youth (DAISY) West, funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA), met other people who access substance misuse services in Belfast, Newry and Mourne and Omagh to share their experiences and learning and help improve drug and alcohol service provision.
Speaking after the event, Owen O’Neill, PHA Drugs and Alcohol Lead and Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager (South Eastern), said: “The PHA recognises the importance of service user involvement as a way to ensure that services are appropriate and meet the needs of those who use them.
“Coordinating this workshop was part of the PHA’s ongoing commitment to this work, not only at service level, but also ensuring that service users become involved and have a voice in the New Strategic Direction on Alcohol and Drugs. We realise that service user involvement is at an early stage in Northern Ireland, but this workshop gave those involved an opportunity to learn from each other and increase the effectiveness of their programmes. This is only the beginning of this important work.”
This workshop builds on and develops previous involvement work, for example, service users have participated as trainers on Council for the Homeless Northern Ireland substance misuse and homelessness training programmes. They have also taken part in the training of social workers, through Queen’s University Belfast, and are involved in the management structures of the services that they use.
Bernie Carleton of DAISY described its input to the event saying: “DAISY aims to support young people who are using, at risk of using, or have been impacted by the use of drugs and alcohol. We have strong family intervention and support, which helps us to meet the needs of young people, while also having regard for their families. Our youth forum consults with young people using our services so they can direct and shape the programme we offer.”
The workshop, held at the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), was also an opportunity to make recommendations to the PHA and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) on how the service users want to be represented and involved in service planning, delivery and evaluation.
Contact PHA press office on 028 9031 1611.
Photo Caption: Pictured at ‘Sharing the Learning’ workshop, to help improve drug and alcohol service provision, are Owen O’Neill, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager (South Eastern), Public Health Agency (PHA); Davis Turkington, PHA Drugs and Alcohol Coordinator, Belfast, and representatives from DIASY West service user group, Derry: Jonathon Finnegan; Bernie Carleton; Blaine Duffy and Lisa Mullin.