Welfare & Harm Reduction CLG
Winner: Start a Social Enterprise Business
Grant from Rethink Ireland 2023
As featured by:
PsyCare Ireland: Welfare and Harm Reduction CLG is an Irish-based organization applying for charity status whose mission is to support members of the Irish public at music events and festivals who may be experiencing difficult psychological experiences or difficult substance induced experiences.
Each year upward of a million people attend music concerts and festivals in Ireland, yet sometimes these environments can be overwhelming and stressful. Additionally they are synonymous with high levels of recreational drug and alcohol abuse.
Despite this, until 2022 Ireland had no permanent and dedicated service to look after the mental and emotional wellbeing of patrons at music events, nor was there a service to provide substance induced crisis intervention, nor was there a peer-to-peer service to provide information and advice to prevent substance induced crises.
PsyCare Ireland changes that by providing 24-hour, volunteer staffed welfare services at festivals and events with safe spaces for people to come and get support for mental health issues or substance related crises and a space where information to reduce the harms of substances is also available.
The psychedelic and empathogenic states engendered by psychoactive drugs are often reported to be some of the most profound states of consciousness that humans can experience. These substances can also trigger some very challenging, confusing, and stressful moments, often leading to mental health crises, if left unsupported.
Concerts, electronic dance music parties, and festivals offer rich aesthetic and social environments that some attendees choose to explore with psychoactive drugs. A combination of factors such as inexperienced users, novel substances, festival chaos, contaminated or misidentified drugs, may create a context where some participants may have psychologically difficult or physically dangerous experiences.
Emergency medical services are present at most large events, but these are set-up to handle physical health issues, rather than emotional or psycho-spiritual crises. Individuals who find themselves overwhelmed by a psychedelic or empathogen need a different kind of support. This support would be a service designed to help those in mental turmoil who need a quiet space, time, a friendly voice, or assistance in recovering from internal and/or external chaos. We also provide a watchful eye for when a person needs further medical intervention. The presence of trained and prepared care givers can have a strong positive impact on delicate psychedelic mind states, whether those states are fearful or joyous.
We are uniquely suited to carry out this work because PsyCare Ireland:
Has a breadth of knowledge and expertise into the varieties of drug-induced and psychedelic crisis someone can experience.
Our Board of Trustees is made up of a multidisciplinary team including doctors, nurses, retreat facilitators and psychotherapists and we recruit and manage a multidisciplinary team of volunteers for available for events.
Has formed links to other organisations already providing these types of services in other countries such as Kosmicare in Portugal and PsyCare UK in the United Kingdom.
Follows the guidelines as set out in the Manual of Psychedelic Support by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) which sets out a tried and tested framework for psychedelic emergency services such as ours.
Our on-the-ground welfare and harm reduction service can reach the cohort that use drugs at music festivals (weekend users rather than people in active addiction) onsite at music events in a non-judgemental capacity to change behaviours and dangerous patterns of drug taking. The current harm reduction and welfare services in Ireland are not reaching this cohort.
In a world where most psychedelic and psychoactive substances are criminalised and obtained on the black market and where many new types of analogue drugs are appearing all the time, there are risks inherent for anyone taking substances. Therefore, we wish to create a safer Ireland by doing everything in our mission to educate the public on making informed choices on drug use.
AS AN ORGANISATION
We value community, and by existing and generating conversation, we hope to foster a stronger sense of harm reduction community in Ireland. We see community as essential for individuals' healing and learning.
INCLUSIVITY & NON-JUDGEMENTALISM
We offer non-judgemental and safe services to people regardless of the person’s race, gender, age, ethnicity, disability, nationality, religion, sexuality or otherwise. We practice openness and respect to those who may have different views to our own. We never condemn others based on their lifestyle choices or drug use.
CREATING A SAFE SPACE
We offer a space for individual autonomy and psychological processing, especially for people experiencing a difficult drug induced experience. This incorporates harm reduction values of Autonomy, Consent, and Privacy
CRISIS AS OPPORTUNITY
We respect the needs and difficulties presented in crisis as opportunities for growth. We endeavour to meet the needs of every person and event that calls on our services and to use these emergencies as an opportunity for learning and personal growth.
We believe in being open and honest in our work, and in our dealings with all our stakeholders.
We believe in educating individuals and the public at large on making better informed choices on drug use and informing them about other harm reduction and addiction services/resources.
Our mission is to provide support for people undergoing challenging drug-related psychological experiences, particularly in relation to psychedelic substances; To provide welfare services to any events where these crisis are likely to occur (i.e. concerts, music festivals); and to provide education to reduce the harm associated with the use of such substances.
Our vision is of an Ireland where all citizens have access to harm reduction information about psychoactive drugs. Where all music concerts and festivals have safe spaces for people who may be experiencing a difficult drug-induced experience. We envision a time where through educating the public our crisis intervention services are no longer needed.
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How to Help
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