Local TD and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar visited Coolmine Therapeutic Community today to officially launch the permanent display of ceramic art works by participants in recovery from addiction as part of the TYPECAST project.
He delivered the following speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m delighted to be here with you today to launch the Typecast: Ceramics in Recovery Project. Thank you to Alan Connolly and Brian McGee for their opening words, as well as Kathleen Moroney and Kathrina. I got a really warm welcome from everyone here this morning.
When I visited the centre in January I met a number of recent graduates of the programme. On that occasion I was honoured to present graduation certificates, and to hear the personal stories of so many people. It brought home to me the courage of people when they make a decision to seek help and tackle their drug addiction. Hearing Kathrina speak a few minutes ago has only increased my admiration for those who have taken that step.
Like Coolmine Therapeutic Community, I believe that recovery from addiction is possible for everyone. I understand that the Community’s approach to treatment and rehabilitation is designed to foster change, promote positive growth, and enable people to live and maintain a drug-free life. A highly structured programme like this also demands a lot from its participants, who are expected to take personal responsibility for their own recovery.
I can only imagine how much effort it must take to keep focused – at all times – on getting better.
The National Drugs Strategy defines rehabilitation as a structured development process, which helps individuals to get fully involved, and regain their capacity for daily life, away from the impact of problem drug use. It’s not just about economic needs, like work or housing or childcare support. Recovery concerns all aspects of a person’s life, from personal aspirations to goals around children, and being reunited with your family. I think this is the right approach.
I want to commend this project for giving new opportunities to the participants. It helps them to realise their talents, and explore and express their thoughts and feelings in recovery through the medium of clay.
I understand that personal development is vital for someone’s recovery from addiction. It reinforces a person’s ability to function as part of the wider world. I was interested to hear about a field trip to Kilkenny Craft College, away from any reminders of addiction. It sounds to me like the whole experience must have been very liberating for the participants.
The arts have always had a powerful capacity to change the way we see ourselves, the choices we make and to enhance our understanding of others. I particularly like the fact that the Ceramics in Recovery Project sets out to develop individual potential, regardless of circumstances.
I’m delighted to see these innovative approaches being taken to recovery and rehabilitation. I also want to commend Coolmine Therapeutic Community for working closely with other agencies to ensure that recovering drug users have continuity of care.
For many people with addiction issues, their recovery journey begins when they seek treatment. That’s why the HSE has focused on improving access to treatment, and expanding the provision of methadone treatment services and needle exchange, particularly outside Dublin. I am delighted that the HSE is a significant provider of financial support for Coolmine Therapeutic Community.
Many of you here will be aware that my Department is about to start work on developing a new National Drugs Strategy to run from 2016 onwards, under the leadership of Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
This work will include an assessment of the current Strategy, and the effectiveness of the policy response to the drug problem. It will also look at drugs policies and practices in other jurisdictions.
There will of course be a full consultation process, and I know that Minister Ó Ríordáin is eager to hear the concerns of those affected, particularly young people, service users and their families. This will help to keep the focus firmly on recovery.
Our main purpose here today is to celebrate the Typecast project and the people who have worked on it. The success of this project is a result of the dedication, commitment and hard work of a lot of people. I especially want to thank Kathleen Moroney for her careful and considered work, along with Tony Shortt, the programme co-ordinator and the participants I met earlier, who entered into this project with great willingness and openness to change.
Thanks also to Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts, the Design and Craft Council of Ireland, and of course to Coolmine Therapeutic Community. You have shown great vision for this project, and are clearly determined to make it work, securing funding from Léargas through the Grundtvig Programme.
I understand the project is part of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, and I am sure the collaboration will be of great benefit to all partners across the EU.
In conclusion, I want to thank you again for your invitation today. I’m looking forward to having a look around the building, and I want to wish everyone a pleasant morning.