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Thursday, 28th May 2020

Red Door Project reaching out to service users during lockdown

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Louse Mahony and Joanne O'Dwyer of the red Door Project speaking with Alan, a former service user, during an outreach session last week. Photo: Andy Spearman.

Everyone is struggling to some extent in these days of lockdown and public health awareness but some are finding it more difficult than others.

For some of the most vulnerable members of society, people trying to cope with addiction or homelessness, and very often both, the C-19 lockdown is just another hardship for them to endure.

During normal times the Red Door Project, based in the old St. Mary’s School Convent on the Dublin Road, is a beacon for these people, a place where they know they can always drop in for a chat, a cup of tea and some friendly advice.

When they are ready they can also access a range of services to help them confront their demons and start on the road to recovery.

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Sadly though, the Red Door has to comply with the same Covid-19 lockdown and distancing regulations as everyone else and this has had a serious impact on how they deliver their service.

“We’re all about community and allowing individuals to have a sense of belonging” Red Door Manager Louise Mahony told Drogheda Life. “Contact and connecting with the service users is most important.”

And the current inability to make contact is the problem, service users can no longer drop in for help or for counselling. So Red Door have had to change the way they work.

“We call our service users every day and offer anything we can, this is difficult for our staff and service users alike as it’s not the same, we are just glad to be able to keep the links” said Louise.

One upside of the lockdown for the red Door though is that they now have the time to reach out to service users and others with addiction issues. Outreach work is a vital aspect of their work, one which they have wanted to get into for years but have never received the funding to take on the extra staff needed.

So existing staff members are now doing outreach on the town three times a week and last week Drogheda Life tagged along with Louise and addiction counsellor Joanne O’Dwyer.

It was a quiet day on the town but it wasn’t long before Louise and Joanne were talking with former and current clients, offering advice and making calls for people in need of assistance.

In Dyer Street we met Alan who, having been a heroin addict and homeless for many years, is now making great strides on his journey to a better life with the help of the Red Door and the Peter McVerry Trust who provided him with his own apartment in Shop Street last January.

“I’m like a kid in a lollipop shop! “Alan told Drogheda Life. “I have a home of my own for the first time in years. The only thing I’m missing is the charity shops, they’re all closed because of Covid-19.”

Alan was begging in Dyer Street because he had a couple of household bills to pay which left him a bit short but he said he was determined to get his life sorted out. “I’m delighted to have a place to have bills for!” he said.

“We are delighted to be able to get out and touch base with people giving them support, information, and anything else they might need at this time” Louise said.

“The message from Red Door is we are still here working hard and linking with all the other great services in the region. We can’t wait to welcome all our service users back through the Red Door.”

If you need help you can call the Red Door on 041 980 4957 or 086 783 1162

This article was written by Andy Spearman

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