Providing 'Hope' for a generation at risk
"FOR me it's about compassion. The person who comes in the door is a human being first. Addiction is only one of their issues. They all wake up in the morning and they all go to bed at night, just like the rest of us," says Counsellor Joe Lawlor, who works with the Eden Hope Project.
"Their substance abuse is holding them back and I firmly believe that they all have huge potential and it's just that this is standing in the way. I'm privileged to be able to do the work I'm doing."
And he has a lot of work to do.
With an open-door policy, the project is working at capacity two afternoons a week and is hoping to open more regularly.
Joe Lawlor is an experienced counsellor. Was he surprised at the level of drug abuse in Edenderry?
"I was surprised at the nature of the problem rather than the level of it. Edenderry has its own particular issues. It would have been alcohol at one point in time but now the younger generation have access to so many other substances.
"I feel Edenderry in particular, the demographic of the area, the number of youth, the proximity to Dublin in particular, I think there's real danger in Edenderry, there's a generation at risk from not just heroin but all substances that can be abused."
There is potential for drug abuse to cause great destruction in the community, but Joe believes that with hope and action, it is possible to manage that.
"There's a cohort of young people in Edenderry for whom substance abuse seems to be a rite of passage.
"Certain estates unfortunately, most people in them escape the scourge that is drug use. A lot of the children don't. And that will be multigenerational. And it's quite difficult for a child to grow up in that environment."
He worked for a number of years in childcare and addiction services in Dublin and his training helps him know where people are at when they come in the door. Can all cases be as positive as those of Mandy Cummins and Ger Hurst?
"I believe they can. You will meet people at different phases of their addiction. You need to validate how difficult it is for people first and that the reality of the situation is what it is. Then we can start talking about desire to change, how to change, when."