A new mobile health service will travel to all parts of Cork and Kerry in order to make support, information and interventions around sexual health and drug and alcohol services available to all.
The ‘DASH’ (Drugs, Alcohol and Sexual Health) mobile unit is the first of its kind in Ireland, providing community-wide mobile services such as rapid HIV testing, condom provision, drug and alcohol assessments and support from trained health promotion professionals.
Delivered on a partnership basis and supported by the HSE through Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, DASH will bring opportunities for informal interventions in every village and town across Cork and Kerry, meeting people in their own communities and making sure they have information and support around their health and wellbeing in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Head of Primary Care with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Priscilla Lynch said CKCH is delighted to fund the initiative.
“It’s very unique, it’s the first of its kind that we know in the country. We are absolutely thrilled to support it, this will be a fantastic resource that will be available for individuals right across the two counties'
Dr Martin Davoren of the Sexual Health Centre said that the centre is delighted to see services becoming mobile, going out into communities and ensuring equity of access for all.
“For far too long, I think we’ve expected people to come to urban environments to meet their services and now DASH means that we can go and let their service find them,” he said.
Emily Barret is the project worker with DASH and she described the service as bridging a gap for all people in Cork and Kerry.
“DASH mobile unit will bring informal interventions to all villages and towns through Cork and Kerry. Our aim is to invite people into to speak with is in a friendly and welcoming environment and we look forward to meeting with everybody,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to getting out on the road and meeting people.
“It will bring communities together and we look so forward to having everybody come on board to us and have a welcoming chat and help everyone that we can along the way,” she added.
Joe Kirby, Co-ordinator of the Cork Local Areas Drug Task Force explained that the project lead will co-ordinate the mobile unit, which is staffed by drug and alcohol workers and Sexual Health workers, with each of those workers offering screening, brief interventions, onward referral and rapid HIV testing.
“Drugs, alcohol and sexual health impact everyone at some point in their lives. The client groups of each of our organisations can all benefit from the ease of access and diverse expertise at the helm of the DASH project. Importantly, DASH will be available to members of the wider community, who may not have the opportunity or encouragement to consider their own needs around drugs, alcohol and sexual health until the DASH van arrives in their local area.”
The service is free of charge, and anyone with question can visit sexualhealthcentre.ie or contact Emily Barrett DASH project worker at the Sexual Health Centre on 083 013 2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org