The House in the Wells in Derry has hosted its annual barbecue and fun day with Mayor Michaela Boyle joining residents and their families, staff and the local community.
The House in the Wells is a harm reduction hostel owned and managed by Apex Housing Association, and currently provides accommodation and support for 24 men with addiction issues. It is part funded by Supporting People.
Martin has been a resident for over seven years. “I started drinking when I was 11 years old; by 15 I was dependent on drink and by 17 I was in a clinic. Life was good when I met my wife; we had four children together but I couldn’t control my drinking, despite being given chance after chance.
“Now I’m content because she’s happy and the kids are happy. I’ve had problems with drugs in the past, but thankfully now I’m only on the drink. I’m glad to be able to say that in my life now at the minute, I’m really happy.”
Paddy Downey has been working in the hostel for 17 years and says his view of street drinkers has changed drastically in that time. “Before I started working in the House in the Wells, if I saw someone drinking on the street I thought they’re wasting their life.
“After seventeen years of working here you see the people behind the bottle. Our residents all had lives – families, children and jobs. No-one starts off thinking I want to be a drinker; there’s always something that triggers it. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t take the time to see the depression and mental health issues that are often at the root of addiction. There’s definitely a need for more harm reduction hostels where residents can drink in a controlled manner. It’s better for them to know they’re safe and for their families to know there’s somewhere for them to put their head down at night.”
The House In the Wells model is one of harm reduction, whereby controlled drinking is permitted. For more information phone 028 7126 7957.