13 July 2021
By Elaine Murphy
In a landmark partnership for the Cork and Kerry region, the Sexual Health Centre has launched a joint community initiative with Cork Local and Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Forces. The organisations are leading out on a unique mobile health service which travels to any and every part of Cork and Kerry – making support, information and interventions available to all.
The ‘DASH’ (Drugs, Alcohol & Sexual Health) unit was launched at St. Finbarr’s Campus in Cork city today (Friday). The project is the first of its kind in Ireland, providing community-wide mobile services such as rapid HIV testing, condom provision, drug and alcohol assessments and support from trained health promotion professionals.
Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre, Dr. Martin Davoren, noted that DASH will provide an important link to support for communities across Cork and Kerry:
“The aim of the project is to ensure equity of access. We want to break down the barriers that people face in accessing services – be it time, location or cost. DASH is available to all sectors of the community, and is free of charge.”
Emily Barrett, DASH Project Worker noted that “DASH will bring opportunities for informal interventions in every village and town across Cork and Kerry. People deserve to get information and support around their health and wellbeing in a friendly and welcoming environment, and DASH will bridge that gap for a lot of people.”
The cross-sectoral approach of the project is central to its development and delivery, as highlighted by Joe Kirby, Co-ordinator of Cork Local Drug & Alcohol Task Force:
“Drugs, alcohol and sexual health impact everyone at some point in their lives. The client groups of each of our organisations can all benefit from the ease of access and diverse expertise at the helm of the DASH project. Importantly, DASH will be available to members of the wider community, who may not have the opportunity or encouragement to consider their own needs around drugs, alcohol and sexual health until the DASH van arrives in their local area.”
The HSE’s Head of Service for Primary Care for Cork and Kerry, Priscilla Lynch commented:
“Drugs, alcohol and sexual health services have operated exclusively, even though there is a lot of overlap in the issues that can come up for service users. The arrival of DASH marks a turning point in how we think about service provision in these areas across the region. It pools our expertise and brings services to people so that comprehensive, accessible supports are truly available to all.”
The DASH van is available to visit communities and organisations throughout counties Cork and Kerry. For more information, contact the DASH Project Worker, Emily Barrett at 083 013 2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org