By Dennis S., Dublin
LifeRing Ireland is celebrating its first year of existence in August of 2010. We accomplished much during this year period. What was done is extraordinary and much of the credit belongs to the meeting convenors and their tireless efforts.
The first informal meeting was held in the house of Dennis S. on August 4, 2009. There were 5 invited people in attendance. This was the first of three meetings held in Castleknock. The HWYW format was used at all the meetings. This was the culmination of work started by Dennis S in April of 2009. After seeing many people struggling with the only self-help groups available in Ireland, he decided to research alternatives. LifeRing is the most positive of the alternatives. After some discussion with the Oakland Service Center and purchase of the basic books, he decided to go ahead with a meeting startup.
Our first official meeting was held at the Dublin Central Mission on August 25, 2009. Dennis S. was the convenor and there were 8 in attendance. This meeting used the HWYW format and the opening statement and convenor guidelines were in an early development stage. This meeting is a great training ground for convenors. Maggie R. is the current convenor of record.
The second group to start was in St. Patrick’s Hospital. Dennis S was introduced to Dr. Farren by Patrick Maxwell, a therapist at the hospital. Dr. Farren arranged a presentation of LifeRing for his therapeutic staff members. After their positive feedback, he presented LifeRing to the Board of Governors of the Hospital. The first meeting at St. Patrick’s was held on October 1, 2009. It was convened by Dennis S. James McS soon became the co-convenor of this group and now is the lead convenor. Jimmy, the first ex-client, has just started convening within the last month. This meeting started small but now uses two rooms on a weekly basis. It actually exceeded our capacity of 40 people for the first time in July, 2010. The opening and closing statements used at St. Patrick’s are a modification of the statements from Michael W’s group in Canada.
The third group met for the first time on April 7, 2010 at the HSE Stanhope Street Alcohol Treatment Facility. It meets at 2:30 on Wednesday afternoons. Deb D. is the lead convenor at this meeting. She and Dennis S. alternate convening on a weekly basis. Deb. D. just celebrated 7 years sobriety (July 2010). She started convening at Abbey Street before convening at Stanhope. This meeting is very small mainly due to time of day. The attendance is between four and eight people, which is actually a perfect size. The meeting is well worth having as it supports a different community within Dublin City.
The fourth group started at St. John of God Hospital on the 19th of July. The convener that night was Dennis S. Mary and James, convenors at Abbey Street and St Patrick’s were in attendance. Both will be available for co-convening. The first meeting had 17 attendees; seven non-residents and the remainder were clients of the hospital. Great support for this meeting was provided by Dr. O’Gara and David Marshal, a therapist at the hospital.
Maggie R. is the convenor for the new meeting starting on August 4 in Abbey Street. This is the same date, only one year later, from the first meeting in Castleknock at the home of Dennis S. This meeting is necessary as the Tuesday meeting at Abbey Street has at times had more than 20 people wanting to attend. It will also be a late evening meeting, starting at 8 pm.
Welcome to Belfast groups.
Philip H. from Belfast contacted the Dublin Groups about LifeRing and the possibility of bringing it to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Philip had several people interested in starting such a meeting.
Dennis S. had been collecting names of interested people from NI for about 6 months. The first breakthrough came when Arthur McCullough taught a class using Marty’s book “Empowering Your Sober Self”. The class was an evening lecture under the adult education section of Queens University. Several other people had contacted Dennis S. through the main LifeRing web site. Belfast looks to have a fast start and a bright future.
An initial meeting was held Sunday July 25th in Starbucks on the Lisburn Road. There were 8 people in attendance. The date for an initial presentation on LifeRing will be 7 September with meetings to start 14 September. Meetings will be in the Frederick Street Quaker Meeting House at 8 pm
Philip intends to start a second meeting in a rehabilitation center/hospital. This will provide contact with people new to recovery who may find the LifeRing approach to be a better alternative. Philip H. is following the model successfully used in Dublin: two meetings to start off; one in the community and one in a treatment center.
Convenors are special people.
The convenors are the life blood of our groups. In Dublin, the Abbey Street meeting has been used to develop a group of these special people. To date, Maggie, Maureen, James, Dennis, Deb, Mary and Ann have all started by convening at this meeting. Jimmy has his training and start at St. Pat’s. Without these people, LifeRing Ireland would not exist
Training is a hit-and-miss operation so far. On the Job Training and the How Was Your Week book have been essential. We will develop a more formal training method within the next year.
Philip H from Belfast attended several meetings in Dublin. He will run at least one meeting here in Dublin prior to September. Dennis S. will travel to Belfast to co-facilitate for the first several meetings there to get the Belfast groups up and running.
The Sunset Work Group
A business meeting was held in June for the Dublin groups. Out of this meeting a work group of 5 members was set up. This group is charged with developing a structure for the Dublin groups. It includes Maggie, Tony, James, Ken and Louis. These members are meeting on a weekly basis at the moment to develop a plan for growth in Dublin.
Dennis S, not a member of the work group, wrote a lengthy document on the tasks he performed during this first year. Marty N. and Michael W, from Canada, were asked to review this list of tasks. Michael has graciously agreed to answer questions the group may have. His experience in the recent Canadian formation will be helpful to our group.
Wow! How do we follow this first year? That will depend on the need of the community and vision of members. Need for new groups will come from contacts and outreach. This is a continuing program to establish LifeRing as an alternative recovery group.
Places of interest in the Republic include Cork and Galway. Cork has an extension of St. Patrick’s Hospital. The therapist has interest in starting LifeRing there. Expansion in the north will proceed as their groups evolve.
Publicity and outreach is an area that needs to be strengthened. With a few more trained convenors, further growth is possible. Use of major newspapers and broadcasting for outreach now becomes a possibility with a core of 5 established meetings.
A more formalized approach to convenor training will be created. Dennis S. attended a one day facilitator training done by AWARE, Ireland. He came away with a wealth of ideas for use in LifeRing. We have several ex-teachers and trainers amongst our membership who can offer assistance in this development.
The Sunset Group will have a major impact on the Dublin groups. It will be a force for consolidating, unifying, and strengthening our organization.
These continue to be exciting times in “LifeRing – All Ireland”.
NOTE: There will be a “LifeRing New Year’s Eve Party” 24th August at the Mission at 7:30 pm.