‘Staff are at burnout level now, but there is just not enough funding’

By Aideen O'Flaherty

THE coordinator of the Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Task Force (TDATF) has criticised an “over-reliance” on workers from CE and Tús schemes in their services, and is calling for more funding so they can hire more permanent staff.

The task force supports projects in the community, including Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency (JADD), the Community Addiction Response Programme (CARP) in Killinarden, and the Swan Family Support Project.

Grace Hill 05 1

Grace Hill, TDATF co-ordinator

However, a sizeable number of their staff are on temporary employment schemes, such as CE and Tús.

JADD has 23 staff at present, including their childcare team, and over half of their staff, totalling 15, are on schemes including CE, Jobs Initiative and Tús.

The Tallaght Rehabilitation project has eight CE staff places in total, which reflects about 40 per cent of their full staff number.

Across Swan, St Dominic’s, St Aengus’, the Tallaght Addiction Support Project (TASP) and the Whitechurch Addiction Support Programme (WASP), there are 27 CE staff and three supervisors.

Grace Hill, coordinator of TDATF, told The Echo: “The people on these schemes are doing a good job, but there’s limitations there and a lack of permanency.

“They have their place in supporting our services, but it’s a huge resource having to train up that person and then after three years we’re back to zero when someone new starts.

“The people on these schemes have a role to play, but should it be more than paid or permanent staff?

“They should complement the work of permanent staff – an over-reliance on staff on programmes shouldn’t be the default.”

While Ms Hill praised the work of the people on these schemes, she added that there should be scope for increasing the number of permanent, paid staff in their services, so they can offer more permanency to their service users while training a smaller number of people on the aforementioned schemes.

“Staff are at burnout level now, but there is just not enough funding for more permanent staff in our projects,” explained Ms Hill.

“It’s not fair on our service users, and our service users deserve the best – that’s our key point.

“It’s the family members and service users that count, and we always want to keep them in our perspective.

“They’re at the forefront of why we do what we do.”

The Echo contacted a Department of Health spokesperson in relation to the TDATF’s staffing and funding issues, however a response was not received in time for print.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health previously told The Echo: “Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Task Force (TDATF) receives funding of almost €1.24m per annum from the Department and the HSE.

“The Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD [recently] met with representatives from Tallaght Task Force and is aware of the valuable role it plays in addressing problem drug use in the local communities in the Tallaght area.”

They added: “Budget 2021 allocated €10m in new developments for drug and alcohol services and inclusion health.

“This includes €1m for targeted drug and alcohol initiatives through the network of drug and alcohol task forces. This new funding is separate to that previously allocated in 2019.”

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