The Dillon’s Cross Project

The Dillon’s Cross Project, Cork is delighted to have been shortlisted for an AONTAS STAR award 2019, in the Social Inclusion category. AONTAS is Ireland’s national adult learning organisation and The STAR Awards (Showcasing Teamwork, Awarding Recognition) are an awards initiative coordinated by AONTAS as part of the annual Adult Learners’ Festival. The Awards acknowledge the work undertaken by adult learning initiatives throughout Ireland and celebrate the positive contribution that these initiatives make to individual adult learners, local communities and wider society.

The Dillon’s Cross Project was set up in 1995 to offer education and support to the female relatives of prisoners and ex-prisoners. The project aims to offer the female participants an opportunity to get QQI qualifications at level 3 and 4 with a view to helping them move onto level 5 Further Education and Training or into employment. The project originated in the Education Unit, Cork Prison, where it was felt that female relatives should have the same education and developmental opportunities as the men in prison, thereby fostering a positive attitude towards education and generally promoting education among families.

The project recognizes the importance of maintaining family ties while a loved one is in prison. This increases the chances of prisoners staying out of prison after release. The children of prisoners can be at risk of offending and this project seeks to encourage a positive family attitude to education, encouraging the next generation to see education and training as a viable, long term option. The female relatives of prisoners and prisoners’ families are often neglected and forgotten while a family member is in prison. There is a stigma attached to having a loved in prison and the families economic and personal circumstances can be under stress. The Dillon’s Cross Project thus acts as a social support for participants as well as offering access to Citizen’s Information, counselling and other services.

In the last number of years the Dillon’s Cross Project in conjunction with the Irish Prison Service, IASIO and Cork Sports Partnership, has facilitated the delivery of a Summer camp for up to 45 children of prisoners.

The Dillon’s Cross Project, which is a unique project in Ireland will celebrate its 25th birthday in 2020 and gratefully acknowledges the help and support of the Irish Prison service and in particular,  the Governors of Cork Prison in ensuring its continued success.