Jeremy Irons at the Sli Eile Summer Festival 2017

Jeremy Irons and Smudge attended the 2017 Sli Eile Summer Festival, on Sunday 30 July.

Smudge was one of the winners in the small dog category at the SlĂ­ Eile Summer Festival Dog Show.

Thank you to Marie Lou O’Donnell for some of the photos. Follow her on Instagram @marielouodonnell

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Cork County Matters Visits Sli Eile

Jeremy Irons is a patron of Sli Eile farm which offers a place where people experiencing mental health difficulties can find safety, acceptance and support to recover.

The Irish TV programme Cork County Matters visited Sli Eile and spoke with founder Joan Hamilton, farm manager John O’Connell and some of the residents of Sli Eile.

The Slí Eile’s Mission

MISSION
The Sli`Eile farm offers a place where people experiencing mental health difficulties can find safety, acceptance and support to recover.
DESCRIPTION
To provide housing and support services for people caught up in the revolving door of the psychiatric system.
GENERAL INFORMATION
Slì Eile’s approach is based on the belief that people have the capacity to recover their mental health, and that given support, understanding and time, they will discover their own way forward, for a new and better quality of life.

The Slí Eile’s  approach to recovery through community living is to provide another way of supporting people to recover from their experience of mental distress.

  • Creates an environment which fosters hope and instils belief that change is possible.
  • Creates opportunities for individuals to participate actively in choices and decisions in their lives.
  • Promotes the support of each individual in their recovery journey, employing a non-labelling and non-judgemental approach.
  • Fosters an environment where individuals are respected and listened to.

Learn more at www.slieile.ie

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Jeremy Irons Narrates ‘Another Way Home’

From 2011 - Kieran McCarthy and Michael Twomey (Complete Control Films) preparing to film an interview and narration with actor Jeremy Irons for their documentary "Another Way Home"

From 2011 – Kieran McCarthy and Michael Twomey (Complete Control Films) preparing to film an interview and narration with actor Jeremy Irons for their documentary “Another Way Home”

From 2011 - Kieran McCarthy and Michael Twomey (Complete Control Films) preparing to film an interview and narration with actor Jeremy Irons for their documentary "Another Way Home"

From 2011 – Kieran McCarthy and Michael Twomey (Complete Control Films) preparing to film an interview and narration with actor Jeremy Irons for their documentary “Another Way Home”

Visit: http://www.completecontrolfilms.com

Written & Directed by Michael Twomey – Film & Photography by Kieran McCarthy

A film about the triumph of will, a lust for life and the right to live it with dignity.

Another Way Home recounts the extraordinary story of how a mother creates an alternative environment to the psychiatric system.

The family embarks on an emotional journey overcoming prejudice and bigotry to help change many lives damaged by the revolving door of mental health care.

The film challenges current methods of psychiatry and attitudes to mental illness. It looks to the future with inspiring testimonies from those who have been to the edge of human experience and back carrying with them the triumph of will, a lust for life and a right to live it with dignity.

Featuring Irish Broadcaster and Journalist, Vincent Browne, renowned Professor of Psychiatry, Ivor Browne and Dr. Harry Gijbells.

Narrated by Academy Award Winning Actor, Jeremy Irons.

Jeremy Irons at Sli Eile Opening in West Cork

Monday, May 20, SlĂ­ Eile opened a new community farm project in Churchtown Mallow. — Jeremy Irons, a patron of Sli Eile, was at the opening – from TV3 News

No copyright infringement intended. Video property of TV3.ie

Photo via Irish Independent

Photo via Irish Independent

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Jeremy Irons attends launch of Sli Eile Farm Project

A better way to mental health

Joan Hamilton with Jeremy Irons and Harry Gijbels at the launch of fundraising for SlĂ­ Eile farm project. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

From The Irish Times 27 April 2010

by ROSE DOYLE

A decade of hard work has come to fruition for Joan Hamilton with the establishment of the SlĂ­ Eile farm project

IT’S TAKEN 10 full-on years – longer if you count the heartbreaking years of a daughter’s illness – but Joan Hamilton’s dream of a residential, farming community where people with mental health difficulties can work to rebuild their lives is about to become a reality.

A force of nature when it comes to getting things done, Hamilton is the woman behind the Slí Eile farm project, behind Villa Maria (the Slí Eile pilot venture running in Charleville, Co Cork for three years now) and behind the venture’s vision of “an Irish society which accepts people’s mental illness and confusion and supports their unique journey to recovery”.

The Slí Eile farm fund was launched last week by the project’s patron, actor Jeremy Irons. Speakers at the event included Healthplus columnist Tony Bates, Prof Ivor Browne and Carmel Fox of the Cork County Development Board.

Irons, in a heartfelt speech, spoke of everyone’s right to self-respect and a sense of worth, about the importance of mental healthcare, his belief that Slí Eile Farm was both “terribly important and made sense” and his conviction that it would succeed “because of our fantastic leader, Joan Hamilton”.

Similar farm communities in Massachusetts and Ohio have been guiding influences in the development of the SlĂ­ Eile model. There is support, too, from Jersey in the Channel Isles, where Joan Hamilton was born and lived until she met Gerry Hamilton, the Irishman she married and came to live with in the Co Cork village of Dromina more than 40 years ago.

She spoke about it on a recent sunny day at Villa Maria, where the pilot project is now providing accommodation for five tenants and one support staff. The cared-for gardens were ready to bud if not bloom, tenants were engaged in the daily schedule of work (including baking bread and scones which are supplied to the local community) and the house cat was stalking this reporter.

When did she start, and why? “I set up a lobby network group around 2000. The why had to do with a lifetime watching my daughter Geraldine’s steady deterioration in the traditional psychiatric system. Figures from the mental health inspectors show that three out of four psychiatric admissions are readmissions – soul destroying for the person as well as for her/his family. I’d been banging on doors forever and felt helpless, frustrated and that there had to be another way, a better way.” She smiles. “A Slí eile.”

The germ of the idea goes back even further. Geraldine is the third of Joan and Gerry Hamilton’s six grown children and her mental health difficulties began as a teenager in the 1980s.

“Her situation, in the traditional system, was pretty appalling at times,” her mother says with gentle understatement. “I didn’t think things could get worse, so I went public and did an interview with RTÉ Cork and that connected me to like-minded souls and that, basically, is how it started.”

In 2001, as co-founder of Cork Advocacy Network, she organised a stake-holders conference entitled Is There Another Way? in Cork city. “Vincent Browne chaired the day and more than 700 people turned up. It was a great success. From a reading of Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin I’d learned about therapeutic communities, so the idea took root, but I didn’t know how to go about setting one up.

“I’d studied choice theory/reality therapy with the William Glasser Institute and what I learned came together in therapeutic community ideals of respect for one another and regaining control of lives lost. I returned to adult education in UCC, studied community development, disability studies, interpersonal communications and applied social studies. It all helped me see how others worked to bring about change and gave me real belief in the possibility that those with mental health difficulties could both recover and regain control of their lives.”

She set about the difficult task of getting funding for social housing. “Villa Maria was achieved after a series of abortive attempts due to problems caused by the stigma and attitudes to those with mental health difficulties.

“But it happened,” she smiles again, “and Villa Maria has been successfully running since 2006. The present five tenants are all growing in self-sufficiency, self-knowledge and self-worth. Everyone’s responsible for their own medication and the role of staff is to help tenants regain life skills.”

With a larger community, “something that’s going to continue long after me” in mind, she spent two weeks last year working as a volunteer at Hopewell community farm in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I saw how it was set up and how it worked. I loved the sense of calm, the reality of structures impacting on people’s lives. I saw the evidence before my eyes of lives recovered and being lived. I came back energised and enthused.”

There’s been the recent, added momentum of enthusiastic support from Gould Farm in Massachusetts too, a community which dates from 1913 and is the oldest such in the US.

SlĂ­ Eile farm will provide a supportive living environment for up to 16 people with mental health difficulties. Everyone will be involved with the daily running of the farm, which will provide housing for at least two residential staff, four volunteers, a residential events venue and farm shop. Allotments will be available to families in the area, all of which will make for social interaction and revenue.

The SlĂ­ Eile farm fund aims to raise money for the purchase of 80-100 acres as well as for staff, buildings and more.

Joan Hamilton has developed and managed her own food processing business, been involved with local tourism, small businesses and administered EU Leader funding. As executive director and founder of SlĂ­ Eile farm she projects it will break even by 2014. The projection that it will bring hope and inspiration to the area of mental health care in Ireland is a given.

Irons backs Sli Eile Farm Project

Irons backing Sli Eile E-mail
Written by Christine Allen
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Multi-award winning actor Jeremy Irons will this week offer his support to the launch of a €3 million housing project for people with mental health difficulties.

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The plan to extend the Sli Eile Farm Project, a housing project that helps people using psychiatric services to regain independence, will be launched by the celebrity patron on Friday 23 April at 11am at the Charleville Park Hotel.According to the project’s founder, Joan Hamilton, three out of four of all admissions to psychiatric services remain re-admissions. “The experience of psychiatric breakdown affects a person on many levels,” she said. “Most of all, people say they feel vulnerable and cut off from normal relations with family, friends and the wider community.”

Breakdown

Following the first breakdown of her own daughter at the age of 16, Ms Hamilton established the organisation in 2001 to help people with mental health difficulties to have control of their lives within an accepting and supportive living environment.

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“We, her family, witnessed her many admissions and steady deterioration over many years and I felt their had to be another way, that what was needed was a living environment where a person was accepted and supported in their journey to regain their place in society, to achieve whatever they want to achieve,” she said. As part of the project, residents participate in weekly rotas, with each tenant paying just €60 weekly for everyday costs of shopping, heating and maintenance.

Future

The founder said that the SlĂ­ Eile project is now ready to expand and proposes to establish a community farm of 80 to120 acres under the National Mental Health Policy Document Vision for Change.

“It will provide a supportive living environment for 16 people who are experiencing mental health difficulties and the tenants will participate in the daily tasks of community farm life which will provide a structure that offers support for people working to regain control of their lives,” said Ms Hamilton.

She told the Cork Independent that the private project would be relying on donations but had benefited from the high profile of Jeremy Irons. “He has a house in West Cork and we were delighted that he accepted our offer to come onboard last January,” she said.

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