Merchants Quay Ireland, officially reopened their Open Door Homeless and Drugs Service in Athlone today.
Launched by Mayor of Athlone, Jim Henson, the reopening comes as more people in the Midlands turn to the charity for help.
In 2011 Merchants Quay Ireland’s Open Door service met increased demand for drug services in the Midlands, in fact MQI’s regional services saw more visits in 2011 as the drug crisis grews across the region.
The Open Door is the main office for MQI’s Midlands drug services which provided just over 4,000 harm reduction and recovery-focused interventions across the Midlands in 2011.
The facility also saw a growing need for homeless services last year, providing a base to serve approximately 300 clients across the Midlands region. The service is currently open five days a week providing free training, meals, and support. MQI is seeing an increased impact of the recession on the poor and socially excluded in the region.
It also provided services to 1,415 visitors, including a variety of critical homeless and addiction services.
Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland notes: “As in the 1980s where high levels of unemployment fed the drugs crisis, and rising poverty led to higher levels of homelessness, we are seeing history repeat itself. Today Merchants Quay Ireland is on the frontline, with our regional drugs services stretched. We are offering harm reduction, rehabilitation, detox, and aftercare facilities free of charge to those wanted to break free of addiction, as the drugs crisis grows across the country.
“In times of economic crisis it is the weakest and most vulnerable who suffer most. We as a society need to learn from past mistakes and address these interlinked crises and invest in long term solutions for the benefit of the individual, their families and society as a whole.”
Working in conjunction with the Midlands Regional Drug Task Force, Westmeath County Council, HSE, and VEC, MQI has increased homeless and addiction services in the Midlands region. MQI has outreach teams and facilities operating in Longford, Laois, Westmeath, Carlow, and Offaly.
The opening coincides with the Midlands Drugs and Alcohol Awareness Week (October 1-5 ) organised by the Midlands Regional Drug Task Force and partners.