Re­lief at Car­raig Eden as res­i­dents’ home is saved

FOL­LOW­ING TWO YEARS OF UN­CER­TAINTY, 30 RES­I­DENTS OF GREY­STONES HOUSE ARE ABLE TO RE­MAIN IN THE HOUSE

Bray People - - NEWS -

AF­TER two years of un­cer­tainty, res­i­dents of Car­raig Eden could breathe a sigh of re­lief re­cently, as a Govern­ment of­fer to buy the Grey­stones house was ac­cepted by the own­ers, Ir­ish As­sem­blies of God.

Clients of Tiglin re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity move on to the prop­erty fol­low­ing the pro­gramme, and in re­cent months all 30 res­i­dents re­ceived evic­tion no­tices.

‘From be­ing on the pro­gramme, my whole progress has been struc­tured to­wards Car­raig Eden,’ said res­i­dent John Doyle. ‘I learned in Tiglin that I’d have to start a new life. To do that I needed a plat­form such as Car­raig Eden to move on from. I couldn’t go back to my old life, there were just too many bad mem­o­ries.’

In Grey­stones, he could avoid trig­gers and found a place that was go­ing to keep all the pres­sure off.

‘As things un­folded here it be­came a re­al­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity what we were go­ing to lose this. It was a big worry. We got our evic­tion no­tices which con­creted our fears re­ally, a lot of guys started to panic. Anx­i­ety lev­els went through the roof here. It’s very much a com­mu­nity here and we all care for each other so when you see other guys strug­gling, of course you’re go­ing to strug­gle your­self.’

Many of the 30 men felt help­less as the threat of los­ing their ac­com­mo­da­tion ap­peared to be­come a re­al­ity. ‘Some guys were close to re­lapse, some guys did re­lapse, and there was a gen­uine fear here. We were all look­ing for other ac­com­mo­da­tion but the mar­ket is just crazy,’ said John. ‘Any prop­er­ties that were avail­able, the land­lords weren’t tak­ing any­one on the HAP scheme. I know it’s not le­gal, they weren’t say­ing it. They’re in a very strong po­si­tion that there’s that many peo­ple look­ing for ac­com­mo­da­tion, they can cherry pick. It just made life very hard for us.’

John has been ac­cepted onto a com­mu­nity drug and al­co­hol diploma, start­ing in Septem­ber. ‘I had the very real prospect of be­ing home­less while in col­lege,’ he said. ‘Col­lege to me is a very big part of my go­ing for­ward.’

He has learned about ad­dic­tion the hard way, he said. ‘ Tiglin gave me op­por­tu­ni­ties,’ he said. ‘I’m for­tu­nate enough now to be in a po­si­tion where per­haps I’ll be able to help oth­ers com­ing through.’

When he learned that own­ers had ac­cepted the of­fer, and Car­raig Eden saved, he was in shock. They were on a re­treat in Cork when the news broke, and it took some time for it to sink in. ‘We were geared up for a long fight here, with the prospect of the bailiffs com­ing down. We had no idea how it was go­ing to go.

‘ That pres­sure is off us now, it’s just bril­liant. We can re­ally plan a proper fu­ture now,’ said John.

Tiglin CEO Phil Thomp­son said that their first in­ten­tion was never to es­tab­lish a re-en­try pro­gramme like Car­raig Eden. ‘What we quickly re­alised af­ter about a year in op­er­a­tion was that peo­ple had very few op­tions to move back out to,; he said.

‘ They in­vested sig­nif­i­cant amounts of time and ef­fort into get­ting not just clean and sober but fig­ur­ing out what life af­ter that was go­ing to look like and un­der­stand­ing that they had to pro­tect their so­bri­ety and every­thing they fought for. So we ap­proached the peo­ple who owned the build­ing at the time to see did they have rooms we could rent.’

It started out with just one or two guys us­ing the premises as a step­ping stone. From there, Tiglin rented a large six-bed­room apart­ment. The apart­ment is now the last stage of the pro­gramme. Clients can start putting into ac­tion what they have learned on the pro­gramme and live it out in so­ci­ety. From there, they moved on to rent rooms at Car­raig Eden.

‘We fig­ured that peo­ple wanted to stay around sober com­mu­nity for longer, rather than go­ing back to same rou­tine as had be­fore­hand when not ready. They started to un­der­stand the whole thing of peo­ple, places and things be­ing a very im­por­tant thing around their so­bri­ety,’ said Phil.

‘So they started to rent in­di­vid­ual rooms from the peo­ple who owned the build­ing and we pro­vided sup­port to them as they con­tin­ued on, which be­came less and less be­cause it was in­de­pen­dent liv­ing. They would just check in if some­thing was prob­lem­atic for them and we’d help them through it.’

With this in place, peo­ple didn’t have to re-en­ter ei­ther into a trou­bling sit­u­a­tion for their so­bri­ety or back into home­less­ness. They had some­where that sup­ported them and with strict ac­count­abil­ity around main­tain­ing a sober en­vi­ron­ment.

‘When we heard Car­raig Eden was up for sale, we had to make an ef­fort to try and see if we could se­cure it,’ said Phil. ‘We’ve had a long drawn out two-year sit­u­a­tion. It came down to the wire but thank­fully af­ter many tri­als we’re now cel­e­brat­ing the fact that these guys have what we’ve asked for - an op­por­tu­nity to get back into nor­mal ev­ery­day life in a safe en­vi­ron­ment.’

He said that of­fi­cials in Wick­low County Coun­cil, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, Min­is­ter Si­mon Har­ris and oth­ers had en­thu­si­as­ti­cally fought for the fa­cil­ity. ‘ They worked to­gether to get this deal across the line,’ said Phil. ‘ There was noth­ing straight­for­ward about it and they didn’t give up.

‘What en­cour­aged me and re­ally en­cour­aged the guys was that prob­a­bly for the first time they felt that a politi­cian rep­re­sented them and their needs.’

Phil de­scribed the ten­sion when the men were handed evic­tion let­ters a few months be­fore­hand. ‘Every­thing they had worked for, such as their ed­u­ca­tion and ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, was jeop­ar­dised,’ he said. Phil said that the Ir­ish Hous­ing Net­work and the res­i­dents of Grey­stones had been ex­cep­tion­ally sup­port­ive.

‘Grey­stones as a com­mu­nity has al­ways ac­cepted these guys, and they have re­spected that greatly,’ said Phil. ‘I’d like to see more of that, in­clud­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties, work ex­pe­ri­ence and so on. We’d like to say thank you to the com­mu­nity for their sup­port of the pe­ti­tion. Res­i­dents got great en­cour­age­ment to see that so many peo­ple were sign­ing it.’

Now, Wick­low County Coun­cil will own the prop­erty and Tiglin will have a long term lease to con­tinue pro­vid­ing the ser­vices. There are plans to re­fur­bish and up­grade down the line.

WE HAD NO IDEA HOW IT WAS GO­ING TO GO. THAT PRES­SURE IS OFF US NOW, IT’S JUST BRIL­LIANT. WE CAN RE­ALLY PLAN A PROPER FU­TURE NOW

Phil Thomp­son, CEO of Tiglin, and res­i­dent John Doyle at Car­raig Eden in Grey­stones.

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