Projects Updates

New referrals

One theme of our care work over the last few months has been an influx of new people being referred to us. Different stages of the year yield different levels of referrals, and this past Autumn/Winter has seen us meeting a lot of new people. Meeting someone for the first time can be brilliant, inspiring, challenging, and nervy– all at once! Usually, in the first meeting, through listening to their story, and speaking about how ACET could work alongside them, the conversation runs on to sharing at a deeper level, and that opens the door to real connection with them and their context.

The initial stage of working with someone new can be challenging as we get to know their circumstances, learn what motivates them, and how best to support them. Sometimes, it may take a while before a person regularly keeps meetings we arrange. Lack of familiarity can be a major barrier, but perseverance and patience help overcome it. To use a horticulture analogy, this is the sowing season; putting in the work now in hope of future success. One of the people we recently started working with reflected, “At first, I wasn’t sure about you, but now I know I can call you and feel really supported”.


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New Parent/Teen Communication Course Dates in Dundalk

“This course has enlightened me about how to deal with teenagers.” – Jesus Centre Dublin participant.

We know that Parenting is tough. We know that Parenting teenagers can be really tough. That is why we are bringing the vastly experienced staff of ACET Northern Ireland to deliver our Parent/Teen Communication Skills course in Dublin.

We have trained church leaders all over the country on HIV, listening skills, mental health and more. Together with our participants we have identified Parenting as an enormously challenging area, particularly in the context of the generation divide marked by migration from one continent to another. I remember the day a Pastor said to me, over coffee, “Richard, I don’t know how to talk to my 14-year-old daughter. It is like she is speaking a different language.” “You are not alone.” was my reply.

We have already trained parents on our Level 2 course in Jesus Centre Dublin. 100% of participants stated that the course equipped them to be better parents in areas such as Teenage Development, Strategies for Resolving Conflict,  How to Build Self esteem in Teenagers and Talking about Sex and Relationships with Teenagers.  Now we are repeating the same course for new participants

Would you consider joining us as together we explore areas of Conflict and Listening and see how God might equip us to become better parents for our wonderful children?

Course Details:

Saturday 13th May: 9:45am – 3:30pm

Saturday 27th May: 9:30am – 4:00pm

Attendance is required for both days.

Venue: RCCG – Miralceland, Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Lunch will be provided. All participants will receive a Level 2 Open College Network (OCN) Northern Ireland qualification and will be introduced to further options for learning in this area including the chance to become trainers themselves through a Level 3 course. There is no charge for this course and there are limited places. To book your place contact Richard Carson at or 0860482094 (On WhatsApp or phone)

This project is funded by the MAC AIDS Fund.

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Flower pots along a window sill.

Care Work Day to Day

In the past few months, our care work has focused on:

  • Medical support: particular clients have been motivated to engage with testing, adhere to new and existing medication regimes and attend clinic appointments with the support and encouragement of care staff.
  • New referrals: needs range from housing, health and migration issues. While building new relationships we have also assisted with applications and interagency work, alongside the appropriate health focus.
  • Linking with extended family members of existing clients: as a result of already established relationships, we have been able to provide immediate support in areas of health promotion, advocacy for social justice issues and boundaries within family units.
  • Mid-term and Easter respite: visits to museums, the zoo, Malahide Castle and Farmleigh provided a welcome break for families and individuals. Creating memories also helps strengthen intergenerational relationships. Respite is an invaluable support: we are grateful for the funding for it.

IMG_5532 IMG_5641 IMG_5735

Respite in many forms: family baking projects; rock climbing; playground time.

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Valerid and Richard Carson at the GALA Awards.

Awards and Recognition for ACET

ACET’s own Richard Carson was honoured for his work in three award ceremonies in recent months.

First up was the DebSandy Foundation who provide information, support and access to healthcare and advocacy. They presented an award in recognition of Richard’s “valuable contribution to raising health awareness in Ireland.”

Debsandy Foundation award.

The Sunrise Foundation presented Richard with an award at a spectacular event in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.

Richard Carson accepting Sunrise Foundation award.

Finally, Richard was nominated for the Noel Walsh HIV Activism Award at the 2016 GALAS – Ireland’s LGBT Awards. At a great night at the Mansion House, Deirdre Seery won the award for all her work with the Sexual Health Centre in Cork.

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New Parenting Course for Project Hope

In 2016 ACET Ireland launched a new initiative for parents and those who work with parents.

The Parent/Teen Communication Skills Course is specifically tailored for migrant communities, addressing their particular challenges in raising teenagers within a cultural context different from that in which parents grew up.

The course will be delivered in conjunction with staff of ACET Northern Ireland and is accredited to the Open College Network (NI) at Level 2 (similar to FETAC Level 5-6).  For more details contact Richard Carson at

This course is part of Project Hope, our initiative with migrant-led and multicultural churches. The need for support in parenting has been identified following extensive consultation with the many church leaders we have trained and their congregants.

By equipping parents in their communication with a new generation of Irish young people we are addressing areas such as sexual health and HIV.

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World AIDS Day 2015

NO FEE 14 International AIDS Day

ACET staff member Lynn Caldwell joined with the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, for the launch of the campaign at governement buildings.





This Tuesday, 1st December, is World AIDS Day.  ACET has joined with a broad range of agencies, including the HSE, to be part of the first National World AIDS Day campaign.

With 203 new HIV diagnoses for the first half of 2015, 1 in 4 people living with HIV unaware of their status having not tested and HIV stigma still a major challenge, this campaign is timely and important.

This Tuesday, wear a red ribbon, share the posters, learn more about HIV, challenge stigma and get tested.

Check out all the latest on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Details of your nearest testing centre are available at the newly launched HIV Services Ireland website:




World AIDS Day



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Care work 2014

At the start of 2014, the ACET care staff responded to new referrals with diverse care support needs. The subsequent relationships built from these referrals involved support around stigma, addiction, disclosure, social inclusion and parent-child dynamics.  During the same period, notable health challenges presented themselves with many existing clients.  While overall health is always a main focus within our care work, extremely compromised medical conditions required a need for increased flexibility in approach.  What resulted from this was more in-home and hospital care visits and phone support preventing further marginalisation and vulnerability.  In 2014, there were 28 families and 67 clients needing intensive support.  We also supported a number of individuals and extended client family members with one-off specific HIV support, resourcing, referrals.

The support included:

  •          Family care visits – 225
  •          Youth care visits – 84
  •         Adult home care visits – 501 home care visits (381 by staff; 120 by volunteers)
  •          Clinic/medical accompaniment – 67
  •         Numerous respite days including residential provision for 21 adult and youth clients
  •         Counselling/bereavement – 67

Early spring also brought a women’s event specifically focusing on self-care and holistic support.  These events are intentionally created with clients through care planning and identifying needs, such as personal development, peer support and positive mental health.  Additionally, a pilot youth afternoon was held during mid-term break as a response to family referrals where parent and youth clients required respite and individualised mentorship.   Follow-up youth activities were also provided during the Easter holidays which helped to initiate more summer plans and continued to build key relationships with the youth clients and their families.

Post-summer, considerable time was spent supporting clients and family members accessing health checks and HIV testing.  There were a number of hospital-related care visits and supports offered to clients, including issues such as adherence to medication and addressing needs for respite following extended in-patient hospitalisation.  In accordance with our family model, this meant extended support to family members during these hospital stays.  Practically, ACET support through this time addressed a range of hardship issues for clients, including clothing, food, and providing advocacy towards welfare entitlements.  During this time, an interagency approach was key for liaising with and referring clients to relevant supports including residential respite with a medical focus.

For many of those ACET work with, there are a number of bereavement anniversaries that occur toward the end of the year and the care team allocate specific time and space for vital emotional support.  Another key challenge was preparing clients for the financial and social pressures of the weeks approaching Christmas.  Bearing this in mind, one of the most consistent responses to this is our Hamper Project.  This was successfully completed with donated and individualised hampers that are then delivered using an integrated care plan specifically focusing on many dynamics that come up at this time of year.


The summer featured a multi-family residential respite to the Cavan Centre over 3 days for 21 clients, including a newly integrated family to ACET’s family work.

We had a number of new clients referred to us who have had quite a range of diverse care plans through choosing to regularly engage with ACET’s care model.

ACET saw excellent adherence to HIV medication with specific clients and therefore moving to quarterly appointments, as well as moving to new & easier medications.

ACET experienced engagement with clients experiencing isolation when other services and resources weren’t necessarily available to them.

We provided a self-care focus on various types of respite days including women’s events, therapeutic space and residential opportunities.

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Care work: Unearthing Joy

The care team have had a busy few months so far in 2015, continuing to meet with individuals and families in their homes, out and about in cafes and clinics, and working with emerging and ongoing challenges, as well as celebrating and acknowledging the positive moments. Our hope is to continue with our ongoing family care projects, as well as putting together respite activities for young people and individuals’, depending on funding and client needs.  This is always a huge focus of the summer months as there are more opportunities to come together, joining in on activities and continuing to build relationships.  We are receiving new referrals from various hospitals, which gives further opportunity to support and care for those living with and affected by HIV.

Upon some reflection, we see our care work a bit like preparing for the Irish weather – you never know exactly what it will bring, but you try to be prepared for whatever is coming!  You acknowledge the rainstorms and work through them, but rejoice when the sunshine is out and appreciate every moment of it.  Some days are chaotic, some are beautiful and many of them are mixed but it really does seem so much easier when you have someone you trust who shows up and stands with you throughout it all.  The care team aim to be the ones who show up in the midst of this, communicating to those we work with, “I hear you, I see you, and I’m here with you.” With the plans we have in place, we also want to acknowledge the space where God leads us to stand in the gap of hardship or isolation or hunger or sickness. We plan to help find goodness and beauty throughout hardships and disappointments, to unearth discarded joy and use it as a resource through those personal battles.  Alongside these ideals for clients, we continue to help source the practical and emotional ways that ACET’s collaborative relationship fits into their life stories.

We look forward to the summer and all of the adventures and opportunities for relationship-building that lie ahead – whether it’s practical resourcing for clients, long chats over cups of tea in an inner-city cafe, a DART journey with young people headed back from the beach singing One Direction songs, or sitting beside someone in an overcrowded hospital; we are blessed to be in it with them, and pray for goodness and joy to abound in it all.


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Stories of Belief with LGBT Christians – NEW DATE

We are delighted to annouce a new date for our Stories of Belief event.

On Saturday 25th July (10am-4pm) at the Lucan Centre we will gather leaders of evangelical churches and LGBT Christians. This is the second such event after a fully-booked event in March.

Stories of Belief – Faith and dialogue in a post-referendum Ireland.
We will be speaking with each other in the wake of the referendum on marriage equality, reflecting on the dynamics and tensions of faith, dialogue and sharing. We will also be hearing from first person narratives, learning from experiences of inclusion, and experiences of being misunderstood.
This seminar doesn’t seek to bring all participants to a place of agreement with each other. The seminar rests on the idea that in order for meaningful disagreement to occur, real understanding has to be in place.
People of faith together, LGBT people, supporters of marriage equality, those who are concerned at the outcome – we will seek to embody gospel values as we create a community of discussion and understanding with each other as we explore how we can live well together in a post-referendum Ireland.

Facilitators include: 

Poet, theologian and group worker, Pádraig Ó Tuama is the team leader at the Corrymeela Community. His book of prose and poetry, In the Shelter, is published by Hachette Ireland and is available in all good bookshops.

Richard Carson is the Chief Executive of ACET Ireland and has 15 years experience training on the interactions of faith, sexual health and sexuality around Ireland and in 13 other countries around the world. 

To book a place for the event, which is supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland, please contact Richard Carson at richard(dot)c(at)acet(dot)ie



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