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Saol Project

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Saol Project

Mission Statement
Saol is a community project focused on improving the lives of women affected by addiction and poverty

Vision Statement
Saol is working towards transforming the way in which Ireland responds to addiction and poverty.

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Summary of Activity



First women-specific, feminist, drug rehabilitation project in Ireland.

We became actively involved in the establishment of the     Inter-Agency Drug Project – forerunner to the North Inner City Local Drugs Task Force.

First intake Oct 1995 – 16 women; over 20 years more than 350 women have taken part in our long term women-specific programmes.

20 years later still the only women-specific project with in-house childcare    facilities in Ireland.  Inter-agency work and policy influencing became stated objectives within the programme.


Set up Basic Education Group and Cardboard Box Writing group.

Official opening International Women’s Day 8th March.

Crèche established in June.

First residential with women & children, Seville Lodge,          Kilkenny.

Produced first publication -  Resolute Women Recite – which generated even more interest in the programme

Established on-going pattern of residential programmes as part of rehabilitation programme.

SAOL takes part in Muralista documentary (see Vimeo for more)


Successful in obtaining New Opportunities for Women (NOW) EU funding.

Transnational partnerships.

Exchange of training/rehabilitation tools and techniques.

Staff exchanges; participant exchanges.

Stats: 90% of participants who completed first SAOL programme increased their literacy levels – 49% up one level, 31% up two levels and 10% up three levels


Programme continues with participants venturing out on to  TV and Radio – Live at 3 and Pat Kenny.

NOW Project sees SAOL linking with Bologna and              Amsterdam.

Participant voices were heard on the national media.

Assisted development of case work and inter-agency approaches.


Original NOW Project is mainstreamed by HSE.

First meeting of Progression Routes Network –with 45      agencies represented.

Progression routes resulted in employment opportunities for 2 participants (employed as peer workers).

First public discussion by SAOL on the issue of poly-drug use.

79% of SAOL participants experiencing problematic poly-drug use.


Emergence of cocaine use in north inner city community.

Established Women’s Studies Programme in conjunction with UCD.

Produced ‘Women in Action’ book.

Although going unreported in official statistics, poly-drug use with cocaine is already commonplace.  Associated mental health issues emerging.

SAOL participants attending mainstream university course.


Accessed Daphne EU funding to explore addiction as a means of surviving domestic violence.

Produced a report on the ‘Processes and Practices of the SAOL Project’ in an attempt to build up the body of literature in the Irish context.

Improved access to women’s refuges for women with drug problems. Previously they had traditionally been reluctant to house women with addiction        problems.  Nonetheless, even with improvements, women with addiction      issues do not get access to beds easily.


Opened first SAOL Summer School for children.

Successfully applied for project funding from Probation       Service.

Summer school for children continues to this day.

Probation service continues to support our work with women and we are a   welcome service in the Dochas women’s prison.


Production of “Journeying Back – Voices of Women on Methadone” by Patricia Kelleher, et al.

Held Gala Concert for fundraising in Liberty Hall – starring   Damien Dempsey and others.

SAOL recorded a CD which included the famous ‘Stronger woman Now’.

Gala concert was a one-off fundraiser; private fundraising for drugs projects remains very difficult, even for the only women’s project.


Contributed to Citywide report on emergence of Cocaine use as a problem in the community.

This started the work that was to lead to the publication of Reduce the Use.


Piloted the care plan system.

Care Planning is now a by-word for the usual structure for key-working intervention.  However, it partly began in SAOL.


Brought ASSIST Suicide Prevention Training to Ireland.

 Another by-word for ‘everyday’ training for which SAOL can claim a major role.


Cocaine Conference in Croke Park resulting in publication of Reduce the Use, Cocaine Worksheets and the Cocaine CD (see website for more details).

The conference, attended by more than 180 people, provided practical advice and support for those working with cocaine issues for the first time.  The     conference launched Reduce the Use and associated resources which have since been downloaded more than 16,000 times from our website.


Introduction of cocaine worker allowing for the development of cocaine specific interventions.

Aftercare groups begin tentatively; fully established in 2010.

This led to SAOL offering training in Reduce the Use, a manual now used in all corners of Ireland with more than 1000 people having attended SAOL training.


SAOL secures funding for renovation of our back garden     allowing for more outdoor play for the Children’s Project.

SAOL joins protest marches against the cuts.

The simple change in environment with all-weather grass has allowed the   children to have access to outdoor play all year around; a developmentally stimulating change.

SAOL is part of her community and will always march with them.


SAOL presents at Council of Europe conference on stimulants.

Aontas Award for education delivery.



We were proud to represent Ireland at the conference and speak about how SAOL was approaching our work with women in recovery from stimulants.

The award from Aontas encouraged us to continue working towards creative excellence as educators.


Joan Byrne leaves as Director to go to CityWide.

Gary Broderick appointed Director.

Launched Reduce the Use 2.

Prequel to 'It's Talk Time' as RDRD women come to visit.

A huge change for SAOL as its first director moves on. 

As cocaine was sharing the field with lots of other drugs, poly-drug use was the norm, so Reduce the Use 2 was published.  It too has been an enormous   success with more than 1000 copies downloaded each year since publication.


Relationship with Abbey begins. 

Art, music and drama have been important to SAOL, and our great working relationship with the Abbey has resulted in many women attending theatre who would never have risked it before.


Peer-related activities: launches of Talk Time, ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ and Poetry book.  Significant launch of Solas sa SAOL, the first manual on the issue of Domestic Violence with women in addiction.

Peer-led research, poetry and discussion made our 18th year one firmly cementing peer to peer work in SAOL. See website for more of their work.

Solas sa SAOL used throughout Ireland as a key resource for impacting      Domestic Violence of all kinds.



RecoverMe is launched from Dublin Castle.

Training with social work students in UCD. Launch of ‘Tus maith, leath na hoibre’

RecoverMe is launched as a follow-up to Reduce the Use, with a focus on emotions.  Has already matched it in the down-loads. Childcare and addiction recognised with massive download of report since publication.

Innovation in training social workers sees SAOL women get involved.


 Publication of IC2; Reduce the Use individual worksheets; Conference on Relationality; poetry book launched; new research by participants and letter to Minister.

 Impact to be seen...


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