On Friday Dessie Ellis TD for Dublin North West and long term community activist in Finglas and Ballymun, dropped by to say hello to the participants of Sankalpa and hear their concerns in relation to the proposed cuts to CE. Dessie made the participants feel at ease and everyone had an opportunity to express their concerns about the cuts to drug services, which are so badly needed in our communities. There was an interesting discussion in relation to methadone and whether Suboxone an alternative treatment to methadone such be considered. Many of the participants expressed concerns about how long people end up on methadone and how trapped they can feel on it. Dessie was very keen to hear the stories from the participants, as he said there was a debate going on in Europe in relation to methadone and its effectiveness. Services like Sankalpa are an essential part of the treatment and rehabilitation cycle, in that it offers people a way of of addiction and off drugs completely. But as Tom highlighted ‘Education is the key to unlocking their way out of addiction. Its easy to remove the drugs and do several detoxes, but its through education that you can make recovery sustainable’.
The meeting with Dessie has been part of Sankalpa’s increasing awareness campaign about the need for more effective rehabilitation services. Over the recent months we have met with John Lyons TD, Pascal O Donoghue TD and Roisin Shortall TD and Junior Minister with responsibility for the National Substance Misuse Strategy.
Is it time to look more closely at the role herbs can play in treating people recovering from addiction?
Dr. Salil Joglekar & Dr. Tom O Brien will present this seminar on Herbal Medicine and it can help people in recovery from addiction. The seminar will present herbal perspectives on the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Dr. Salil Joglekar is an Ayurvedic doctor teaching and practicing Ayurvedic medicine in Pune, Inida. He has a special interest in the treatment of liver problems. Dr. Tom O Brien has a PhD in adult and community eduction, specializing in addiction rehabilitation. He is also a 4th year student of Herbal medicine, with the Irish School of Herbal Medicine in Portlaoise. He manages Sankalpa, an addiction rehabilitation centre in Finglas. For more information; email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0860261240.
The Hepatitis C virus was identified in 1989. It is a viral agent. It is associated with both acute and chronic liver disease. In many cases people infected with Hepatitis C may not become ill. However, some people develop jaundice. When liver inflammation persists for longer than 6 months the illness is called chronic Hepatitis C. Symptoms tend to occur in cycles, you may have periods when you feel fine and then go through weeks when you feel absolutely exhausted.
This is the most common symptom reported by persons living with Hepatitis C. It ranges from mild to debilitating fatigue. it is important to state that the severity of fatigue is not related to the severity of the illness. The temptation on days when you don’t feel tired is to make up for lost time. Overdoing things and forcing yourself is not a good idea.
2. Pains and Aches
Many persons with Hepatitis C feel a variety of aches and pains. Chronic pain is itself a great stress.
Stressful life events like a diagnosis of Hepatitis C make life very difficult. Some people cope and find ways to get through the shock but others find it difficult to cope with and this can lead to depression. this should not be ignored as it can take a terrible toll on a person and everyone else in the family. It is important to talk to your children and explain how you feel and reassure them that you are not angry with them.
Living with Hepatitis C changes your life and persons needs vary greatly. Information and education are vital to help you understand the illness and improve your quality of life. Counselling services can provide both practical and emotional support.
Steps to coping with Hepatitis C
1. Understand your history
It is helpful to get your own medical history straight. Understanding medical terms and test results can be confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more you understand your condition the more you will feel in control.
2. Respect your emotions
It is not easy living with Hepatitis C. Anger, sadness and fear drain our energy. We need to find appropriate outlets for these feelings.
3. Learn to listen to your body
Pay attention when you feel tired. Don’t push yourself through the tiredness. Rest as often as you need without feeling guilty.
4. Get help
The psychological dimensions of coping with Hepatitis C is now well recognised. Set aside time to talk to a skilled counsellor. These sessions will help you take stock and focus on your needs. You will learn how to talk openly and honestly, instead of storing up your worries.
5. Gather information
Significant progress in the understanding and treatments of Hepatitis C has been made over the years. Keep yourself informed of developments. It will help you feel hopeful and in control.
6. Stay involved in your life
Don’t let Hepatitis C define who you are. Don’t let it engulf your life. Learn to relax. There are many good books, tapes and courses available. Pace yourself. Don’t overdo things. Avail of the support services, involve your family and friends, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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.
Pascal Donoghue TD for Dublin Central visited Sankalpa recently as part of our political awareness campaign. Drug services have not aways spent enough time telling the story of the work they do. Too often we take for granted that people understand the work of drug rehabilitation services. We just get on with the work and believe that people are aware of what we do. However this is not always the case and more and more services need to improve their relations with the media, politicians and other key stake holders. We can not take for granted anymore that our politicians know what we are doing, we have a responsibility to ensure that they know. Its a two way process, as the we can educate the politicians as to the work we do and the challenges we face.
Pascal arrived on his bicycle after getting lost on the Ballyboggan road. However I was impressed with his mode of transport as a cyclist myself. Pascal was friendly and warm to our service users and staff and after a brief meeting with myself, Pascal met with a number of participants to listen to their fears and anxieties around the cuts to CE and social welfare benefits. The session was very engaged and Pascal was reminded by one of the participants ‘remember, we vote now!’. And so goes out the reminder to all politicians that Sankalpa is raising the political conscientious of service users from Finglas and Cabra. Too often politicians think that once their elected they can do what they want. Sankalpa would like to promote a participatory democracy. A democracy that is built on genuine participation. Too often our citizens are excluded after the general election has ended and the votes have been counted. Lets start changing that and call our politicians to account to us the voters on a regular basis. Lets get more politically active!
SIPTU has sought a meeting with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, to discuss a Directive issued by FAS Community Services Unit in relation to its Materials and Training Budget for 2012. The Directive states that FAS will impose a proposed cut of 66% in materials and training grants for community employment schemes from January next.
This is despite recent commitments given to SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor by the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, and Joan Burton that a review of CE schemes to establish their viability will be carried out before any further developments as the result of cuts announced in the December Budget.
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Eddie Mullins, said that FAS must be completely unaware of the commitments given to Jack O’Connor by the two ministers.
In separate letters to Jack O’Connor earlier this month, the Labour Party ministers stated that “community employment schemes provide a very important and valued contribution to social employment training and progression for unemployed people.” They said that no CE scheme will closed pending a review of their viability.
“The purpose of the review will be to establish the on-going viability of each scheme in the context of the overall objectives of the CE programme and recognising in particular the community and social value of each scheme,” the ministers wrote.
“In the event that the reduction in the training and material grant announced in the Budget creates financial difficulties for schemes that would otherwise be viable, the Department of Social Protection will be in a position to fund such schemes from the overall Departmental Budget,” they wrote.
Eddie Mullins said; “In the context of these commitments the officials within the FAS Community Services Unit should immediately withdraw the Directive and allow the review to take place as promised.”
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen has called for urgent clarification from the Taoiseach and the Minister for Social Protection as to whether or not a review is taking place on massive cuts to grants for Community Employment schemes. Minister Joan Burton created further confusion in the Dáil last night by attempting to hide behind “reviews” of the cuts she proposed to CE schemes in Budget 2012, despite the fact that yesterday the Taoiseach told the Dáil that any reviews cannot result in a reversal of the 66% cuts to grants for Community Employment schemes. Deputy Cowen said: “Fine Gael and Labour appear to be at odds over the cuts to Community Employment schemes announced in the Budget. The conflicting reports from the Government are causing great distress to those involved in community employment projects around the country. “I again questioned Minister Burton in the Dáil about what these cutbacks will mean for individual CE projects nationwide. Once again she failed to provide a clear response. She said the cuts will not result in any CE schemes shutting down, but she didn’t deny that each of them would be hit with massive cuts of 66% to the grants provided by the State. “Minister Burton has offered no solace to people around the country who are deeply worried about the impact of these cuts. There is real fear among community groups, the long-term unemployed and employers involved in CE schemes about what these cuts will mean to them. It is incumbent on the Minister to clear this up once and for all.”
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
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
You can use how you feel to make your life better. While negative emotions may be painful, they may also be our best friend. We can use them to change the quality of our life immediately.
I was listening to Tony Robbins talk about how we could master our emotions. He said that the key to mastering emotions is to use them as a call to action. Every emotion has a message for you. Appreciate the message. Negative emotions are a signal that change is needed. You can either change your perception or change your approach.
Change Your Perception or Change Your Procedure What if you knew that no matter what negative emotion you felt, in a moment or two you could get out of that feeling? According to Tony, you can. At any moment when you feel any negative emotion, the first step is to identify the Action Signal. The Action Signal is the message that the particular negative emotion means. The next step, after you clarified the Action Signal, is to take action by either changing your perception or changing your procedure. You change your perception by changing how you look at it or what you focus on. You change your procedure by changing your approach or how you are responding in the situation.
10 Types of Emotions According to Tony, here are the 10 broad categories of emotions to use for this exercise:
Frustration – held back or hindered in the pursuit of something.
Disappointment – sad, defeated.
Guilt – emotions or regret.
Inadequacy – less than or unworthy.
Overloaded – overwhelmed, hopeless, or depressed.
Loneliness – apart or separate from.
This is the set of negative emotions that we’ll turn into Action Signals. Instead of getting controlled by these emotions, we’ll use them as signals to take action. That action is to either change our perception or change our behavior.
Action Signals According to Tony, here are what the 10 Action Signals mean:
Uncomfortable - When you feel uncomfortable, this is a signal to change your state. Clarify what you want, then take action in that direction.
Fear – Fear is a signal to prepare ourselves or get prepared. Get yourself prepared to deal with something that’s about to come. If it’s beyond your control, then change your perception and let it go.
Hurt - Hurt is a signal that you have an expectation that’s not being met or you have a sense of loss. Evaluate whether there really is a loss. Next, change your perception or change your way of communicating your needs or change your behavior.
Anger - This is a signal that an important rule that you have in your life has been violated by somebody else or maybe even you. Clarify your rules or adjust them. Your rules might not match other people’s rules so if you don’t change them, you might be angry the rest of your life.
Frustration - The signal is you’re doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. You need to change your approach to achieving your goal.
Disappointment – This is a signal that you need to realize that an expectation or an outcome you had won’t happen, and you need to change your expectation. For example, maybe your timeframe was too short.
Guilt – Guilt is a signal that you violated one of your own standards. Don’t stay in guilt, but don’t deny it. Make things right when you screw up. When you can’t change the past, change your present and future behaviors. Recognize when you’re feeling guilty when you shouldn’t be, change your perception, and let it go.
Inadequacy – This is a signal that you need to do something to get better. Get up and do something to get better or change your criteria. Maybe your rules are too harsh. You don’t have to be perfect – you simply need to start taking action, such as go practice, to improve at whatever it is.
Overloaded – This is a signal to reevaluate what is most important to you in this situation. Distinguish between what is a necessity versus. what is a desire. Prioritize your list. Take the first one on your list and do something about it. Do something to take control of events instead of let them control you. The simplest way is to chunk it down, take one thing, and act on it.
Loneliness - The signal is we need a connection with people. Clarify what kind of connection you need: basic friendship, somebody to laugh with, somebody to listen to you, etc. Then change your approach or change your perception.