Over the past two years, Ireland’s prison-based Community Based Health and First
Aid has received international acclaim with an award from the World Health
Organisation in 2011 for this prison health initiative as well as the Irish Innovation
Awards in 2012. The programme has now been shortlisted for the 2012 Irish Medical
On Thursday 11th October 2012, the Director General Mr Micheal Donnellan opened
an international event hosted at Wheatfield Prison. Special guests were
representatives of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies of 37 countries in Europe
as well as some from the Far East. There was also representation from the
headquarters of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies in Geneva. The delegates were in Ireland to attend the Red Cross/Red
Crescent First Aid Education in Europe Network (FAEEN) meeting which is being
hosted in Ireland from 11th-13th October.
The Irish Red Cross was represented by the Secretary General Mr Donal Forde and
the City of Dublin VEC by its CEO Ms Jacinta Stewart. There were also
representatives of Governors, chiefs, nurses and teachers from many of the prisons
undertaking the programme. The purpose of this event was show case Ireland’s
Community Based Health & First Aid in Action programme to these visiting countries
who are now interested in how this award winning programme could work in prisons
in their own countries.
Inmate volunteers from Mountjoy, the Training Unit, Dochas Centre, Cloverhill,
Shelton Abbey and Wheatfield presented examples of first aid skills and a wide
range of health projects that they are undertaking as Irish Red Cross volunteers in
their own prisons. At the end of the presentations, delegates were invited to visit the
individual display stands of each prison and talk to the volunteers, their Governors,
chiefs, nurses and teachers.Opening the event the Director General of the Irish Prison Service, Michael Donnellan said that he recognised the importance of the project and acknowledged the important changes that it had already brought about in prison health.
“The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is going through a period of change where its strategic goals and aims will make a dramatic change to how custodial care is administered in Ireland and the programme fits very well into these with its community and voluntary service focus” said the Director General.
“The partnership between the Irish Prison Service, the Irish Red Cross and the City of
Dublin Vocational Education Committee began in June 2009 when the pilot
Community Based Health and First Aid in Action approach to prison community
health was introduced here at Wheatfield Prison. Since then it has been rolled out to
five other prisons during 2010/12 and is set to start in Cork, Portlaoise, St Patrick's
and Castlerea Prisons in 2013. It is hoped that all fourteen prisons in Ireland will be
operating the Programme by the end of 2014” he added.
The event was a resounding success and the volunteers from all prisons were well
received by the international delegates who were amazed by the skills, knowledge
and dedicated work being undertaken by them in the name of the Red Cross in
Press Release Issued by the Irish Prison Service, October 2012
Picture: From the left Graham Betts-Symonds Irish Prison Service Healthcare, Lydia O’Halloran Irish Red Cross, Stephen O’Connor Vocational Education Committee. Photo:Irish Red Cross