The Clondalkin Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (CDATF) was established in 1997. Its function is to research, develop and implement a co-ordinated, locally appropriate response to substance misuse. In order to achieve our goals, the Task Force relies on the work achieved by agencies and community groups who give of their time and dedication to sitting on committees and sub groups, developing policies and giving valuable input into how resources are allocated.
The Task Force commissioned an important piece of research in 2015. The aim of this was to provide an understanding of the current patterns of drug use in the area and explore the relationship between poverty, inequality and drug related harms within the changing policy environment in which Drug and Alcohol Task Forces operate. The research study ‘Outcomes: Drug Harm, Policy Harms, Poverty and Inequality’ was launched at a national conference on the 28th of April 2016.
The research highlighted three key areas of significant concern:
- The increasingly apparent complexity and strength of links between drug use/dependency and deprivation/poverty on the other hand. These links, and the critical consequences for families and communities, have become more apparent during and following a period of sustained government-initiated cutbacks.
- A decrease in the capacity and strength of community to become actively and effectively involved in tackling these issues. Policy has moved away from supporting this in a coordinated way.
- A related shift in policy that emphasises centralised service delivery, creates delineation between services, and makes a coordinated response more difficult
“The austerity policies introduced in the wake of the great recession have exacerbated the existing structural deficiencies in our society by cutting funding to education, health, housing, and welfare supports and to the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and community, voluntary and statutory services that support vulnerable groups.” Outcomes: Drug Harms, Policy Harms, Poverty and Inequality, CDATF 2015.
A number of recommendations were agreed at the national conference (in which more than 120 people participated). Of key significance amongst these recommendations was the need to:
“Ensure that there is a comprehensive consultation process engaging all the key stakeholders including local communities who are most affected and have a deeper understanding of the responses required”
The Task Force committed itself to taking on board the key findings of the research, most particularly the clearly demonstrated need to find new and more effective ways of tackling the causes and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. We were also convinced of the need to consult widely, within the community and with service providers, in order to develop the deeper understanding required.
The Clondalkin Drugs and Alcohol Task Force Strategic Plan has been drawn up following a series of consultations and working group discussions involving a range of stakeholders in the Clondalkin community, as well as those providing local services. The process was facilitated by Nexus Research Cooperative during early 2017.
Specifically this involved:
- Consultation with community-based organisations and service providers who were responding to various challenges raised by drug and alcohol misuse in Clondalkin. Discussions (with staff volunteers and service users) centred on difficulties faced, the perceived impact on families and broader community, and what should be seen as priorities for the Task Force in a new planning period.
- Consultation, covering the same topics, with service providers who had a direct link to Task Force activities and programmes. These included HSE drugs treatment services, An Garda Siochana and the local authority.
- A series of joint workshops. These (four in all) brought together the full range of interest groups (local organisations, service providers, volunteers, CDATF staff and beneficiaries of services and programmes. These workshops were structured and facilitated using “Theory of Change” methodology and approach to planning. Agreement was reached on all aspects of the strategic plan, including priorities, aims, outcome indicators, structures and operational procedures.
It was agreed in general terms that:
- The overall thrust of the plan is geared towards the reestablishment of community strength in tackling the causes and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse; the re-establishment of meaningful and effective partnerships; and the development of a holistic approach to dealing with both the causes and consequences of drug and alcohol abuse in Clondalkin.
- The Strategic Plan will be formally launched following further consultation and sign off with the community based organisations and services providers. We will be posting when and where the Strategic Plan will be launched in the coming weeks.