Home > The new communities street drinking assertive outreach project: an evaluation of the pilot project.

Devaney, Eva (2020) The new communities street drinking assertive outreach project: an evaluation of the pilot project. Dublin: Community Response and CKU Centre for Counselling and Therapy.

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This report will present the findings of an evaluation of the ‘New Communities Street Drinking Assertive Outreach’ pilot project. Funded by the South Inner-City Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (SICDATF), the project was delivered by Community Response and the CKU Centre for Counselling and Therapy, aiming to utilize existing service skills and expertise. Other local services, Merchants Quay Ireland and Coolmine, also supported the project. The pilot project was developed in response to a recognised need to strategically address the health needs of street drinkers from new communities, and to enable new communities with addiction and mental health issues to access treatment and support services. In addition to the intervention, the project also included an action research component and a specific referral pathway into the CKU service. 

The evaluation included a review of literature, review of assessments conducted during outreach work with 45 participants, and interviews with eight project stakeholders from the five agencies involved in the pilot. Of the 45 people that the project engaged with, three-quarters were male. Over half in this group had children, but most did not live with their children. Three in ten were sleeping rough, while another third lived in hostels or with family/friends. Almost 70% spoke Polish as their preferred language. Three-quarters of this group had never been tested for Hep C, or did not know if they had been tested. Only one person knew that they had tested positive for Hep C and had undergone treatment. However, the responses to the Hep C questions are inconsistent, possibly indicating a lack of awareness of the infection in this group. Alcohol (beer and wine) was the drink of choice for three-quarter of this group, followed by cannabis. The aggregate scores on the AUDIT-C assessment are high, indicating that this group are at high risk of alcohol related harms. 

Barriers to accessing services included: stigma and shame, communication barriers, cultural and systematic barriers, lack of awareness of services and lack of stable accommodation. These concur with previous national and international research. All stakeholders interviewed for this evaluation felt that the model of intervention employed in the pilot was suitable, effective and accepted by the target group. The key strength of the project was the interagency approach that was employed, and the enthusiasm and commitment demonstrated by all stakeholders. There was a strong recognition among the stakeholders that street drinkers from new communities is a marginalised group, but part of the local community, and that their needs need to be addressed as a human right. 

A number of recommendations are provided for overcoming the communication, cultural and structural barriers to accessing services experienced by street drinkers with mostly unstable accommodation. Most of these relate to reorientation of services in order to better meet the needs of the members from new communities in the local community; however, it is also recognised that addressing basic needs such as accommodation and physical health are pre-requisites for effectively addressing problem alcohol use.

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