29 – 30 September
The purpose of the conference, as per previous years, was to:
Raise awareness about the most vulnerable groups in Irish society, including homeless people, drug users, prisoners and vulnerable migrants.
Allow health and social care workers, academics and policy makers to gather and work together in order to improve health care for those most vulnerable.
Day 1: Friday 29th of September
The conference began with opening remarks by Dr Fiona O’Reilly, the representative from Safetynet Primary Care, and Prof Gerry Bury, Professor of General Practice in UCD, who acknowledged the importance of the work done by everyone involved in the projects focused on homelessness in Ireland.
After the welcome and introduction speeches, the key note speakers Dr Nigel Hewett and Mr Joseph Doyle, provided an extensive update on the current situation in the UK and Ireland, in terms of homelessness and the provision of healthcare for this vulnerable group. It was emphasised that a better dedication and allocation of resources and further collaboration among services, are essential in efficiently addressing the needs for the homeless population.
Following the key note speakers the launch of the mobile health unit took place, where the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, highlighted the importance of the unit, and offered full support. A new mobile health unit, operated by Safetynet and the Dublin Simon Community, aims to provide primary health care to some of Dublin's most vulnerable homeless people.
The highlights of the day included two after lunch sessions:
The Samaritans community and an Acting for the Future play and
Service users perspectives on homelessness and mental health
The Samaritans and ‘Acting for the Future’ as a part of the Smashing Times Theatre, presented a short theatre performance, which aimed to raise awareness of the challenges and stigma around mental health and suicide. The theatre play was based on a dramatic monolog which followed the experience of a young person being affected by losing a friend to suicide, and being overwhelmed with feelings of remorse and guilt. Following the performance, speakers from the Samaritans organisation provided excellent insights into the work of their organisation and their role in the promotion of positive mental health and suicide prevention.
Two service users shared their experiences of discrimination and hardship, as well as views on the support provided to them by different organisations through all stages of homelessness. The experiences of being homeless from the perspectives of service users were greatly appreciated by the audience, and they were unquestionably helpful in not only gaining valuable insights into this social issue, but also in contributing to a better understanding of which services are the most needed and how they could be improved. One of the service users, Tara, emphasised the importance of the support given by the Dublin Simon Community. Through the ‘Promoting Positive Wellbeing’ action established by this organisation, activities such as gym training sessions, football, swimming, nutritional advices and meditation are provided to all users. Tara expressed that being able to participate in sports activities, including the Homeless World Cup, helped her change her life and perception of homelessness.
The first day of the Irish Street Medicine Symposium 2017 ended with a dance performance entitled ‘There is No Medicine like Hope’ by service users of the Dublin Simon Community.
For more information:
Contact: Safetynet’s General Manager, Fiona O’Reilly on 0871628663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs available on request.
Presentation slides available on request.
Safetynet Primary Care is a charity with the overall aim of delivering the highest possible standards of health care to marginalized groups which includes groups such as homeless people, drug users and migrant groups without access to healthcare. It is part funded by HSE Social Inclusion
Irish Street Medicine Symposium
University College Dublin
The third Irish Street Medicine Symposium Conference was hosted by Safetynet Primary Care and the UCD School of Medicine, with support from HSE Social Inclusion on the 29th and 30th of September, in University College Dublin.
Participants at the Irish Street medicine Symposium 2017