Jemma is from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and has lived in Belfast for several years. She has an undergraduate degree in Community Youth work and is finishing the first year of her degree at Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work. Jemma has spent much of her time working with young people on the streets of Belfast, and has seen first-hand how substance misuse affects families and young people. She is particularly interested in learning more about helping clients find recovery and get the mental health services they need to live safer, healthier lives. Outside of school and work, Jemma works out several days a week, and walks or bikes any chance she gets.
Kathy is from County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and is finishing her first year in her degree program within the Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work in Belfast. She was attracted to social work after seeing the challenges faced by family members who have struggled with addiction and mental health issues. She has been a support worker and volunteered for Samaritans and Women’s Aid. Kathy is looking forward to learning more about treatment and research for patients who are dual-diagnosed, i.e., those with both substance use disorders and mental health conditions.
Seána (say “Shawna”) is from Belfast. She is currently in the first year of her degree within the Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work. She has already completed an undergraduate degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. She hopes to work toward a career as a Probation Officer. “I have always been interested in acting as an advocate for people experiencing social inequalities,” she says. Seána has more than six years’ experience working as a practitioner for Community Restorative Justice Ireland and has also worked with young people from disadvantaged areas. Her past work experience raised her awareness of the effects of poverty, addiction and mental illness on communities. ” Seána reads, goes to the gym and travels in her spare time. She and her black pug Frank are constant companions.
Judith is from Bangor in County Down, Northern Ireland. She is in her first year of her program in the Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work. Judith was attracted to the field after seeing the very positive effects of a social-program intervention in the life of a cousin with a learning disability. “They helped make great changes to our lives and made our situation manageable,” she says.”I would like to be able to offer this support to another family.” Judith has volunteered in programs serving children and young people with learning disabilities for several years. She has also volunteered in a community center for homeless individuals and people struggling with addictions. These experiences led her to do a research project on alcohol and self-regulation during her earlier degree in Health Psychology. She is looking forward to the CODA visit as a way to learn more about the ways she can work with her target populations.
Shannon is from East Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is in the first year of the program within the Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work. Her interest in the field stems from observing how members of her family and others around her have been affected by addiction and mental illness. Shannon has worked with clients as they undergo parenting assessments and face struggles with addiction, poverty and homelessness. “I have always had an interest in supporting those in society who our most vulnerable,” she says. “I have seen how untreated mental health challenges and substance misuse can damage families, people and communities…and how great the need is for compassion and effective treatment.” Shannon loves music, travel and her Jack Russell Terrier, Buddy.
Laura Matheson is from Newcastle in County Down, Northern Ireland. She has undergraduate and graduate (called postgraduate in her system) degrees in Psychology and is in her first year of the program within the Queen’s School of Sociology, Social Policy, and Social Work. She has worked and volunteered with children for many years, including those in foster care, and individuals with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Laura works in a residential home for adults with learning disabilities and mental health and also in a residential program for teenagers. These experiences led her to pursue social work. She is very interested in learning more about how addiction treatment fits into these other support programs. When she isn’t working, Laura often spends her time with her one-year-old nephew.
Jeanette is from a coastal town in Northern Ireland called Carrickfergus. (It has one of the oldest Norman castles in Europe, built in 1177!) She has four children, a daughter who is 23, twin boys of 21 and a son who is 15 years old. She has worked as a teacher and a civil servant for many years, and is now pursuing for her degree in social work. “I have chosen this career, as many probably have, because I feel with my varied experience I could give something back to society and make a difference,” she says, adding “I’m certainly going to try!” Jeanette is very interested in learning more about helping people who have lost their health, employment and families due to addiction to re-enter their communities.
Eimear (say “EE-murr”) is from Rostrevor in County Down in Northern Ireland. She holds an undergraduate degree in Criminology from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is completing her first year of her degree in social work within Queen’s University School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work. Her work with Women’s Aid on the impact of alcohol and her volunteer time with the Cuan Mhuire Rehabilitation Centre, has shown Eimear the devastation that alcohol and substance misuse can have on an individual and their family. As a result, she hopes to expand her knowledge and skills to work more effectively with individuals living with addiction. In her spare time, Eimear enjoys the gym and hikes up the Mourne Mountains with her dog, Ollie.
Rosaleen is from Crossgar in County Down, Northern Ireland. She has an undergraduate degree in Law and is finishing the first year of the Social Work degree at Queen’s University Belfast. She decided to pursue social work after working as a residential assistant and volunteering in a shelter for homeless adults. “It gave me insight into the difficulties faced by individuals who struggled with addiction,” she says. Rosaleen also volunteered as a Childline counsellor, a service that provides a confidential telephone and email service for children and young adults. A fieldwork placement working with children further added to her interest in the long-term impact of parental drug and alcohol misuse on families.