Why not check out our new podcast, now available on iTunes! At the moment there are two podcasts already recorded. Tune in for more interested conversations with Dave and Tom where we will be exploring the role of community development in Sankalpa with Lisa. We also hope to bring you an interview with Svetlana our yoga teacher about her experience of working with people in recovery. We will be conducting interview with various people living and working in the Finglas and Cabra communities.
Sankalpa is a holistic centre that works with people who are seeking support to detox off methadone.
Meeting Room – a film about Concerned Parents Against Drugs
March 30th, 2013
New Stabilization Service in Sankalpa
March 16th, 2013
Is there a way out of this clinic?
March 1st, 2013
Useful Apps for within Addiction and Mental Health.
February 2nd, 2013
Sankalpa embraces the Community Reinforcement Approach
November 4th, 2012
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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
Dear Community Employment Participant,
As you are aware Joan Burton Minister for social protection announced a 66% cut to the materials and training budgets of all Community Employment Schemes. Following pressure from community groups, labour back benchers and constituents she was forced to back down and call for a review of Community Employment, and pending the outcome of this review no cut backs would take place and no scheme would be threatened by closure. However today I recieved a letter from FAS informing us that they have decided to go a head and implement the cuts prior to the review.
This is another blatant sign that this Government is as arrogant as the last one and does not have the leadership or the capacity to lead us out of this crisis. I accept that there needs to be a review of community employment. I accept that I may have to pay more taxes. I accept that I will have to work even longer hours to achieve better client outcomes for every euro that this state provides. But what I don’t accept is the unfairness of this budget and the arrogance of this Government to make the the most vulnerable in society pay for the crimes of the previous administration. We want a fairer society. This government is widening the divide between the haves and the have nots. Our service Sankalpa is a special CE scheme working with recovering drug users from Finglas and Cabra. CE schemes form part of the national drug strategy in trying to bring about rehabilitation for people on methadone who want an opportunity to give something back to society, who want to learn to read and write, form better relationships with their community and family, who want to create hope for the future of their communities in places like Finglas and Cabra, where the new leaders are gang members, where suicide is too common and where we are being abandoned by so called Government Socialist TD’s in John Lyons, Roisin Shortall and Joe Costello.
I was disappointed last night when listening to President Higgins Christmas message that he too put economic recovery ahead of creating a better society. We will never have a fair society if we prioritize economics over community. If we build communities we will be a stronger nation and we will recovery more quickly and sustain that recovery into future generations. If we sacrifice our vulnerable in an attempt to balance the books, we also sacrifice the republic our founding fathers died to create.
Dr. Tom O Brien
Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent Irish Independent, Thursday 22nd December 2011
THREE cabinet ministers responsible for introducing savage cuts in the Budget are holding on to their right to a teacher’s pension when they leave office.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton last night refused to say if they would give up pension entitlements built up during teaching careers.
All will receive generous ‘Rolls-Royce’ political pensions worth almost €100,000 and funded by the taxpayer after they retire from politics.
But the three frontline ministers are also entitled to teaching pensions, which the taxpayer is also paying towards.
Last night, they declined to say if they would give up their rights to these additional pensions, despite a decision by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to give up a teaching pension from his time in the classroom.
Mr Howlin and Ms Burton could not give details of what their education pensions are worth. Mr Noonan is entitled to a pension of €10,000 a year from his time as a teacher.
The revelations come after Mr Howlin cut pension payments to ministers — and amid controversy over Budget cuts to disadvantaged schools.
Mr Kenny completely gave up his entitlement to an estimated €30,000-a-year teaching pension and a retirement lump sum worth as much as €100,000 during the general election.
He worked as a teacher for just four years before being elected to the Dail in 1975, but continued paying into his pension fund for almost 30 years.
At the time he gave it up, Mr Kenny said: “I will not be accepting any pension from teaching and I hope those who are, and those (who) at 50 years of age run away from Dail Eireann on pensions of €100,000 for the rest of their lives think about what they are doing.”
Mr Howlin still hasn’t officially waived his right to a pension from his teaching years, despite saying he has no intention of drawing it.
Mr Noonan has officially given his annual teacher’s pension of around €10,000 a year back to the State for the duration of his time in Cabinet.
However, his spokesman could not say if Mr Noonan will reclaim this entitlement to a teaching pension once he steps down as a minister and TD.
Mr Howlin, who was a teacher for nine years before resigning his position, has not yet drawn his pension or teaching lump sum.
He refused to say how long he had paid into his teaching pension, and how long he had done so while sitting as a TD.
When asked on at least five occasions by this newspaper if he had formally given his pension entitlement up, Mr Howlin’s spokeswoman said the “issue does not arise”.
“The position remains as was stated by Mr Howlin before the election, he has not drawn down any pension or lump sum from being a teacher and does not intend to draw one down.”
In order to gift their pensions back to the public purse, teacher TDs have to formally write to the Department of Education asking to hand it back.
One of Mr Howlin’s Labour Party colleagues, new junior minister Joe Costello, has gifted his teaching pension back to the State. So has Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin — but he may also draw a teaching pension when he leaves the Dail.
When asked about his pension before the election, Mr Howlin said: “I don’t think it’s right that someone should accrue a second pension while they’re also accruing a single pension,” he said. “I would have no problem with it being legislatively abolished.”
Ms Burton is also entitled to a lecturer’s pension when she leaves the Oireachtas. She took a leave of absence from her post as senior lecturer in accounting at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) between 2002 and 2011 to take up her Dail seat.
“She accumulated no additional pension rights in that time,” a spokeswoman for Ms Burton said.
Union members and single parents have picketed the Dail in protest against Budget cuts to community employment schemes.
And in another act of defiance against the Government, rebel Labour TD Patrick Nulty joined the protest and called for a U-turn on the cuts.
“The Government must exercise common sense and immediately reverse the disastrous cuts,” said Mr Nulty, who was expelled from the parliamentary party on Monday for voting against the coalition on the Budget.
“This cut has the potential to close vital services as without the materials grant there will not be sufficient funding to cover costs.”
Around 100 people took a stand after the Government announced funding cuts to social welfare, which will result in community schemes providing services to children, the elderly and single parents being forced to close down.
Siptu, which organised the protest, pointed out that the 66% cut means the funding of a materials grant and training grant has been slashed from 1,500 euro to 500 euro per scheme.
“In areas of disadvantage, community employment is often the only access people have to work, training and education,” Siptu campaign coordinator Darragh O’Connor said.
“The Government has said that fairness is a core principle with regard to this Budget. Let them demonstrate that is the case by reversing these savage cutbacks which threaten the entire future of community employment in our country.”
But Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore rejected claims that the Government was closing down community employment schemes.
He said: “The Government is providing additional monies for labour activation. The amount of money provided by the Department of Social Protection for employment support measures in 2012 is almost 100 million euro more than what was provided last year.”
Taken from the Hearld.ie
Dear Minister Gilmore,
Thank you for your reply. There are a number of issues and questions I would like to address in this email.
1. Are you telling me that the training and materials budget of community employment schemes will now not be reduced by 66%?
2. If the Labour Party really believes that Community Employment Schemes carry out an important role within our communities supporting the social fabric, why then would you support measures to undermine these services by reducing their budgets and forcing many of them to close down?
3. If the Labour Party want value for money from CE scheme, why take such a unfair measure of cutting every CE project by the same arbitrary figure of 66%? If you want value for money you will first have to carry out an assessment or evaluation and do this in partnership with the community and voluntary sector. I want value for money and I want better outcomes. I don’t believe your begin honest, fair or just in this budgetary measure.
4. You refer to the Minister Joan Burton seeking value for money, good outcomes, progression and experience for participants. Well I manage Sankalpa (www.sankalpa.ie) and for the last 4 years since starting to work in the service that is what I have been committed to doing. Sankalpa comes under the special CE schemes for drug users seeking support with their recovery, rehabilitation and progression towards life long learning and future employment. The biggest obstacle we face in trying to progress our participants is the overly medicalized treatment they receive for their addiction. They have been overly medicalized on methadone, zimovaine, valium, anti-depressants and other medications. By the time they reach our service, they have been brain washed by psychiatry and medicine – policies supported by Government. It can take up to 3 years to bring someone through the Sankalpa program from being highly medicated to becoming drug free, dealing with the underlying causes of their addiction and embracing education, social change, housing and re-integration into family systems and local communities. During those two to three years, on a small budget we work hard to maximize the value of every euro spend and every hour of the day and day of the week. We face intimidation on a regular basis and work in highly stressed environments and communities. I work 60 hours a week to make Sankalpa an effective service with better outcomes. So before you judge the work of these services and make unfair cuts, please find out the facts and involve us in the process of evaluation, analysis and redevelopment. Please do not leave this to senior officials from FAS or the department of Social Protection. Respect the communities who voted for Roisin Shortall TD and John Lyons TD (Dublin North West).
5. As for asking your FAS regional directors “to analyze the capacity of sponsoring organizations to absorb their budget reductions”. Minister Gilmore you are simply endorsing the culture of ‘the shadow employer’ where by FAS are micro managing CE services in community and voluntary services and ignoring the rights of the employers. FAS officials and no doubt when they become officials of the department of social protection, do not have a commitment to partnership or collaboration in my experience. It seems unfair that you are suggesting such a strategy, one that further disempowers communities and local organizations. I really don’t understand where your are coming from giving that you are a Labour (I assume socialist) TD?
6. Finally, I was in the Public Gallery today during the so called debate on the social welfare budget today, with two participants on Community Employment in Sankalpa. Both of whom have been homeless, heroin dependent users, and now both are drug free, detoxed off their methadone, both doing a progression course linked to Cabra VEC called the ‘explore program’. One of them lost his brother to addiction this year, and yet David still remains drug free and committed to his recovery. Both of these men are fathers and are trying to do their best by their Children. Both of them were shocked at the pantomime that passes for a debate on a bill that will affect the most vulnerable in our society. Only Dessie Ellis TD, Mary Lou McDonald TD and Richard Boyd Barrett TD took the time to speak to us and acknowledge our presence.
Minister Gilmore I believe that you want to respect the needs and rights of all our citizens equally. Please have the courage to be transparent and honest and state clearly that this government is not going to cut the funding to community employment services.
Please ensure a fair and transparent review of community employment takes place and that this review will be done in partnership with the community and voluntary sector, the communities in which they are based and the participants who use these services.
Dr. Tom O Brien
Sankalpa Finglas – Cabra
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