“Probably the best and hardest decision I have ever made in my life was deciding to stay in Coolmine that day. It was a challenging experience but something I needed to do to get some direction in my life because I was heading into a life of crime and addiction. Sadly to say most of the people I hung out with have sadly passed on after years of addiction. The only time we met up over the years after being in Coolmine was at funerals. Thankfully, I completed the programme. It was tough, but I felt supported and learned a lot and I got enough time and space to break away from my old environment and friends who were sadly still using drugs.
“After finishing the program, I got a place to live, a job and new activities. This was all part of the aftercare phase that was in place to support you to move on, back into the community and living independently and being responsible for managing your employment and money management: paying rent, bills and feeding yourself. I managed to complete aftercare and graduate from the programme. This was a big achievement for me getting through the programme and living independently for the first time in my life.
“Working in the services was something I had no interest in. At the time I was working full time, when I got a call from the director of the programme asking would I come back and work for Coolmine as they were under pressure. Coolmine was growing and they were about to move to a big facility in Navan to cope with the population of clients coming into the programme. They needed more staff. I thought long and hard about this, but I felt I owed something to the programme for the chance and support I received when I was on the programme, so I decided to go back and work for Coolmine.
“Forty-three years later I am still part of the staff team and it has been some experience. After being in the programme myself, with all the people I worked with over the years, all the clients that have been through the programme, all the changes and programme development it has been a wonderful experience for me. I feel privileged and forever grateful to Coolmine for the learning and opportunities I have had during my time being a part of the organisation.”