Official Opening of Tiglin Ladies Rehabilitation Centre
Remarks by President Michale D. Higgins at the Official Opening of Tiglin Ladies Rehabilitation Centre, Thursday 17th May 2012
A Chairde go léir, Ladies and Gentlemen
Tá áthas an domhain orm bheith anseo inniu chun Ionad Athshlánúcháin na mBan Thigh Glinnea oscailt go hoifigiúil. Is lá speisialta é seo do mhic léinn, a gclanna agus a gcairde agus ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis an Uasal Aubrey McCarthy agus baill foirne Teen Challenge, Tiglin as an gcuireadh teacht anseo.
[I am delighted to be here today to officially open the Tiglin Ladies’ Rehabilitation Centre. This is a special day for students, their families and friends and I would like to thank Mr. Aubrey McCarthy and the staff of Teen Challenge, Tiglin for their kind invitation to officiate.]
Since 2004 the Teen Challenge Programme in Ireland has been helping people in Ireland to overcome their drug and alcohol problems. As a worldwide organisation which originated in New York in 1958, and with now over 500 Teen Challenge Centres in 900 different countries worldwide, the reach of your programme is truly impressive.
Much of what Teen Challenge Ireland has achieved in recent years is built on the efforts of volunteers and the contribution of current and past residents from the programme. Teen Challenge and other drug awareness and recovery programmes depending, as they do, on the support of volunteers working with professionals, are examples of communities responding creatively and effectively to the challenges around them. The fact that it is achieved by crossing traditional boundaries and working together to reach out to those struggling with addiction to engage them, and support them in becoming fully active citizens in our society makes it all the more valuable. This kind of creative collaboration will be critical in Ireland’s recovery and transformation.
Our understanding of drug addiction has evolved and we now know much more about effective medical and social responses to addiction. That your programme is holistic and provides not only medical supports, but programmes that include the talking therapies that address family relationships, self image, community relationships and re-entry into work is evidence of this evolution.
Furthermore, it is welcome that we are moving, however slowly and great the challenges, towards working with those affected by drugs misuse with the respect and compassion they deserve. These are all positive developments.
However, if we are to develop as an inclusive, democratic society that cares for all its citizens, then we have so much further to go. The poverty and inequality that exists in Ireland is both a great indicator of a failure to deliver inclusive citizenship and it constitutes another great impediment to achieving the kind of Ireland we can be proud of. We cannot consider ourselves an inclusive society as long as there are those of our citizens who cannot engage with society in all its richness because they are trapped in such economic and social circumstances as deny them access to the services and supports they need.
Evidence is now abundant that when we look at societies, using many core indicators, from life expectancy, to levels of educational performance, to levels of addiction to illegal drugs, and deaths from drug overdose – the health of society is affected not by how wealthy a society is, but how equal it is.
Societies with a bigger gap between rich and poor are bad for everyone in them, including the well off, that a more equal society is a healthier. We need to do much more to address this inequality if we are to meaningfully, and in a sustained manner, address the seedbed from which so much drug addiction comes. Our real wealth is our people and they constitute our capacity for change.
This capacity for change, transformation, is especially important for the students here at Tiglin. Your choice of the use of the word “student” to describe the residents is apt, given the range of educational and developmental opportunities here at Tiglin. The insights, the skills and the understanding you gain through your time here will stand you in good stead right through your life.
Teen Challenge in Ireland started out as an outreach team serving those affected by homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction. A rehabilitation centre for women was opened in 2004 with a capacity for six beds in Teach Shechem, in Newbridge Co. Kildare. Importantly, Teach Shechem translates from the Irish into ‘house with a shoulder to lean on”.
A men’s rehabilitation centre was opened in Tiglin in 2008 with a capacity now of 26 beds. In 2010, work commenced on renovating the former An Óige Youth Hostel. The women’s residential centre transferred to this building in November 2011, which can now accommodate 14 residential beds. The re-entry houses in Newbridge and Greystones are important supports for the students as they leave the residential support and take those important steps into work and other full time initiatives.
Is fiú go mór aidhm an chláir athshlánúcháin atá agaibh lena chinntiú go bhfágann na mic léinn Tigh Glinne saor ón andúil agus eolas agus scileanna saoil acu a chabhróidh go mór leo bheith ina mbaill den sochaí chun taitneamh agus tairbhe a bhaint as an saol. Leagann an clár béim ar thábhacht cumas an duine tuairimí dearfacha, iontaofacht, aire do dhaoine eile agus freagracht sóisialta agus pearsanta láidir a fhorbairt.
[The goal of your rehabilitation programme is a worthy one, to ensure that students leave Tiglin addiction free equipped with the knowledge and life skills to become a fully contributing member of society, capable of leading a fulfilling and productive life. The programme also emphasises the importance of nurturing and enabling the individual to develop positive attitudes, trustworthiness, concern for others and a strong sense of personal and social responsibility. ]
It is heartening to hear the success stories of your graduates – one who will soon be entering his 3rd year as an apprentice mechanic with a large car firm, another in the 2nd year as a Special Needs Assistant in a Dublin secondary school and another working as a Youth Community Worker on FÁS Community Employment schemes. In addition, two graduates now work in Tiglin, also on FÁS CE schemes and two graduates are in their 2nd year of a university degree programme in Psychology, as mature students.
The relationship support work that Tiglin provides ensures that all members of the family receive assistance, and participate in the recovery programme. Family support gives each member the opportunity to recover from the experience of living with addiction and to build a stronger family unit, and relationships which are so essential to the successful recovery for all.
Tiglin has never lost sight of its community focus and this is reflected in how your students have engaged and assisted with community projects, e.g. the local tidy towns community effort in nearby Ashford, Co. Wicklow. The homeless bus outreach Tiglin operates two nights every week and that provided drug awareness services to youth in the Kildare, Dublin and Wicklow regions, including the Oxygen festival in 2011 is a most valuable service that deserves special recognition. This shows what can be achieved by the work of volunteers who reach out and work together to make a better life for those around them and their communities. You are lucky here at Tiglin to have so many enthusiastic volunteers, giving of their time and expertise to help others.
In its former life as a youth hostel, this building brought great joy and purpose to generations of Irish youth. The echoes of that meaningfulness are present in the work of this centre today. To those of you who are recovering from drug addiction, this centre plays a critical role in the new future you are carving out. There will be challenges ahead, as there are in everyone’s life, but armed with the hard-won knowledge, skills and self awareness you have gained here, those challenges will be immeasurably more manageable.
To Aubrey and colleagues, I understand that you are currently rebranding your organisation to Tiglin Teen Challenge and I wish you continued success going forward. To the students – past and present – please don’t lose your determination. There will be challenges ahead, as there are in everyone’s life.
© 2012 Áras an Uachtaráin