1. Ireland was the first country in the world to introduce Community Based Health & First Aid in Action through groups of special status Irish Red Cross inmate volunteers in a prison setting.

2. The programme was initially piloted in Wheatfield prison in June 2009 and following its success was extended to 10 prisons by 2013 and to all fourteen prisons in Ireland in 2014.

3. The programme, which has recruited almost 800 Irish Red Cross volunteer inmates in seven years, works on a peer to peer basis; inmates take on training and develop projects that lead to an improvement in hygiene, health and wellbeing in their prison community.

4. Volunteer inmates provide instructions on good hand washing techniques and cleanliness, thus contributing to the prevention and control of disease and a marked improvement in personal, in-cell and prison hygiene.

5. Volunteer Inmates have led successful projects on Overdose Prevention, TB, Smoking Cessation, Winter Vomiting Bug, Seasonal Flu, Heart Disease, Stroke Awareness, Nutrition, Exercise and Cancer Awareness.

6. In some prisons volunteers actively conduct practical demonstrations in Basic First Aid, CPR and the use of a defibrillator.

7. In three prisons HIV & AIDS Awareness and Anti Stigma Campaigns with voluntary HIV Mass Rapid Testing took place, these were linked to St. James Hospital GUIDE Clinic and promoted by CBHFA inmate volunteers. Between 55% and 75% of all inmates presented for testing.

8. Since running ongoing Weapons Amnesty Projects to remove cutting weapons in two prisons, assisting management with an advocacy role through the volunteers, the results have shown over 90% reduction in cuttings with a weapon and 50% less assaults. Volunteer inmates have also helped design a very successful peer led 2-day violence prevention course for use in all prisons.

9. The inmate volunteers use images, symbols and translation to communicate with peers whose language or learning skills mean that they are unable to easily understand English.

10. The programme is award winning
• International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) 2015 Volunteering Development Award
• Irish Institute of Training & Development Awards 2013, Winner of National Training Award
• Irish Healthcare Awards November 2012, Commendation Award for Best Public Health Initiative
• Bionmis Irish Healthcare Awards May 2012, Won Best Health Promotion Project
World Health Organisation Award in 2011 for Best Practice in Prison Health


The CBHFA programme operates under a partnership of the Irish Prison Service, Irish Red Cross and Education & Training Boards Ireland.