The Ana Liffey Drug Project launched its new strategic plan1 on 20 January 2012. This document, informed by feedback from many stakeholders, will shape the work and aims of the organisation through the next three years.
Dublin's Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague, who formally launched the strategy, congratulated Ana Liffey staff for their hard work and for the ambitious goals they are setting in this new plan. He spoke of the value of pilot projects, even those that could be controversial. He declared his support for Ana Liffey’s plan to pilot a medically supervised drug consumption room in order to find out what effect it might have on the wider community, and whether it could reduce the overall harm of drug use in the Irish context.
Tony Duffin, director of Ana Liffey, briefly highlighted the progress made and the challenges faced by the organisation in the last five years.He said that the project now offered a wider range of services to meet the growing demand from service users. There had been a significant increase in the numbers of staff and of drop-in contacts between 2007 and 2011. However, levels of funding had not kept pace with these developments, and the project was now having ‘to do more with less’. He said that the heroin drought in 2010 had had an effect on services, and also on service users, many of whom had turned to benzodiazepines and other substances. The availability of head shop products (prior to the ban in 2010), especially mephedrone, along with an increase in violence and intimidation, were among the major challenges faced by both the staff and the people they worked with.
Ana Liffey’s plan for 2012–2014 includes six strategic objectives, as described below.
1. To maintain and develop a range of high quality low threshold services which support our service users to access integrated pathways and achieve their goals.
This objective is internally focused on service delivery. The main goal is to establish and strengthen inter-agency partnerships and to provide easy access to a wide range of services in order to support and meet the changing needs of each individual.
2. To create service responses which will address the unmet service user needs.
This objective is the most controversial part of the plan, and was the focus of most questions and comments at the launch. The goals under this heading are to advocate, plan and work towards the establishment of a pilot medically supervised injecting centre by December 2014, and of a crisis centre for residential detoxification specifically aimed at tackling the issue of multiple substance use by December 2013.
3. To promote quality service delivery in the sector through the provision of practical organisational supports and initiatives.
In relation to the work done through the Progression Routes Initiative, the plan reiterates Ana Liffey’s commitment to the QuADS support project. This objective also includes the national roll-out of the Community Detox Initiative, as well as the co-ordination and evaluation of a naloxone pilot targeted at drug users, their peers and families, both by December 2014.
4. To develop appropriate partnerships in order to advance our strategic objectives.
The goals set by the organisation cannot be achieved without the support of all stakeholders. In this objective, Ana Liffey emphasises the importance of monitoring opportunities to progress those objectives on an ongoing basis.
5. To communicate the vision, mission and values of the organisation so that individuals with problem substance use issues are treated with dignity and respect.
A communication strategy will be developed that includes annual reviews of services so that stakeholders can effectively support service delivery.
6. To develop the capacity of the organisation at all levels to enable delivery of the strategy.
In the current difficult economic context, it is vital that the organisation finds ways to optimise resources, using tools such as a client management system and a learning and development plan for staff.
In his director’s report, Tony Duffin acknowledged that Ana Liffey anticipates ‘continuing challenges over the next three years. Not least because of the significant challenges to delivering on some of our goals…’.
Ana Liffey’s mission remains to work with people affected by problem substance use and the organisations that assist them in order to reduce harm to individuals and society, and to provide opportunities for development of those individuals and organisations.
1. Ana Liffey Drug Project (2012) Strategic plan 2012–2014. Dublin: Ana Liffey Drug Project. Available at www.aldp.ie