Thanks to Kainos, their team in Belfast and in particular the hard work of web developer Michael Kemp we have been able to give our website a substantial overhaul. Everyone at Aisling is very happy with it and we hope that you will be too and that you enjoy using the site and finding out more about the Aisling Return to Ireland Project.
I would also like to give thanks and praise to our original web developer Jim McCool who designed the site way back in 1996 and has been faithfully updating it ever since. Not only that but he has been doing all this from Sydney Australia for the last 12 years – long-armed those Armagh men! As we have become so used to it now it is not easy to cast your mind back to just how new the internet was back in the mid 90’s, but back then we were one of the first organisations in the Irish sector and the voluntary sector to have a web-site and thanks to Jim’s foresight and talent we have been pretty much ahead of the game on the web thing.
Jim was a pioneer in this field having already set up irishinbritain.net and has worked for some pretty big companies developing and maintaining their websites so we were very lucky to have him with us all this time. Over the years operating systems have become more user friendly and (hopefully) it won’t take someone of Jim McCool’s or Michael Kemp’s calibre and experience to do the inputting work necessary to update the site with Dreamhosters the new system we will be using. Thanks a million Jim and good luck to you and Lida and the young McCool’s down under.
Also on the new site you will see some of Deirdre O’Callaghan’s pictures which have been represented on a new page. Deirdre is based in the USA now but still takes an interest in Aisling and has raided her files for copies of pictures from her award-winning book of photographs: Hide That Can from when she came on trips we made to Clare and Wexford. Deirdre has finished a new bock called The Drum Thing featuring photos and interviews with drummers from all over the world which she funded through Kickstarter, so look out for that. You can also see pics on the site from Ben Graville who came with us to Kerry one year. Ben is a freelance photographer based in the depths of Deptford, south-east London. Other photos on the site are by Alex McDonnell and John Glynn taken on our Blackberries. Some of the other artwork featured on the site including the amazing painting of Pops Johnny on the homepage is by Cian McLaughlin a very talented artist and friend of Aisling from Dublin.
We also have new pages for outreach and volunteering on the site now as these activities form the basis for most of what we do. Anyone who is referred to access our services must first of all be interviewed and assessed for a return to Ireland trip and during this process we will learn a lot about the client which can help us to provide the best service we can. Very often there are health, welfare, dependency etc. issues which also may need addressing where Aisling can directly intervene or refer on to other services. Charlie Conquest is our Outreach Worker who also has wide ranging experience as a health service professional and John Glynn is our alcohol outreach worker who is also very experienced providing advice and help to people with alcohol and substance misuse problems. Mary Leyne is our volunteer coordinator and you can find out about how you can help by visiting the Volunteering with Aisling page.
As this is our 20th year we are hoping to make progress on our long held dream of opening our own Aisling Resettlement Home in Ireland. We have met with many ministers and heads of department in Irish government circles over the years hoping to make this dream a reality but have been sadly disappointed at their lack of interest. Jimmy Deenihan is the very first Minister for the Diaspora and he seems to have a real interest in the welfare of emigrants and it is hoped that we can make some progress this year and maybe even get the key to the door of our own house in 2015 which will be the year of our 21st birthday.