ABLE Homeless Initiative

Ag Eisteacht offers a tailored version of our ABLE training specifically for those working in the homeless sector.


Ag Eisteacht has trained over 230 frontline staff in the homeless sector across Ireland in the last 3 years through our Homeless Initiative. We have continued to develop this programme based on organisational feedback and in line with best practice. In 2017 Ag Eisteacht are offering a tailored ABLE Training Programme to homeless sector organisations and regional groups. Ag Eisteacht work in collaboration with the group or organisation to identify their specific needs, and work with each organisation to support their team’s learning in practice.

The Ag Eisteacht Homeless Initiative is partly funded by the ESB Energy for Generations Fund.

Course Aim

The course is designed as a specific and targeted training programme for staff working in the homeless sector. It aims to enhance the development of professional practice and improve outcomes for service users.

This programme provides a deeper understanding of relationship dynamics and informs the practitioner as to what might be going on in service users’ lives. The evidence informed, accredited framework provides a process to follow when working with service users who are presenting with personal and relationship problems and who are struggling to cope. When delivered as part of an organisational / team approach it builds a shared language and common approach which supports a consistent and compassionate response to service users.

Who is the training for?

This particular training initiative is for staff within the Homeless Sector. Those who have attended the Homeless Initiative training to date have held roles ranging from CEO, manager, social worker, social care worker, advice worker, case manager, housing support officer, youth worker, information officer, administrator, project worker, and accommodation and support officer. There have been more than 30 different organisations represented on the Homeless Initiative training nationally.

How will the training benefit me as a frontline worker in the homeless sector?

• ABLE training supports practitioners in two distinct ways. Firstly by exploring evidence based knowledge and the theoretical background of how childhood experience impacts on adult relationships. Secondly by using a brief intervention model to recognise and respond to service users when they are struggling to cope.

• The programme also focuses on practitioner wellbeing and self-care. This includes using the ABLE model for peer support which can help mitigate against depersonalisation and burnout, which is an issue in this sector (Hickey 2012).

What is the impact for service users?

• A professional and caring response that is respectful and appropriate.
• Feeling empowered and capable of personal choices.
• The dignity that comes with being listened to and treated with compassion.
• Confidence that the practitioner is capable of hearing their story.
• Clarity around boundaries and personal responsibility.
• Increase in self-awareness and a wider perspective.
• A normalising of common concerns and feeling understood.

Testimonials from participants who have previously completed training with Ag Eisteacht tailored for the homeless sector

“After 12 years of working in this sector it has relit the fire, bringing me back to the client.”

-Teresa Gilchrist, Manager Bethany House, Longford.

"Working with a group of nine, the week after training, I just kept rolling the ball back, it was very powerful. This is one of the best training courses I have attended, very well structured and put together."

-Columba Heneghan. Addiction counsellor / Group Facilitator / Life Coach. Cuan Mhuire. Galway.

"I really feel that I have up skilled in a practical sense, not just me but the service that we offer. I put the training into practice at work on Saturday and it worked really well, giving the young woman time to tell her story has already made a difference, as the issue that we all thought was the main block in her moving on wasn’t the real issue at all. The listening and feeling comfortable in reflecting back has really helped her and me to mediate a situation. There is a lot of training that that I go away from and think is good, but rarely use. But I have already gotten much more than the cost of the course back."

-Sharon O' Flynn, Deputy Foyer Manager/ Training Coordinator, Cork Foyer.

“I thought it was excellent and I would recommend it. It equipped people with the tools and skills for listening, and a greater awareness and understanding of what people are actually saying, and how important that is. We don’t get enough training that is relevant to our work and this was absolutely very relevant, and we could walk away from the course more equipped and confident to deal with people.”

-Kay, Tenancy Sustainment Officer, St Vincent de Paul Limerick.

"I knew the different instruments but it’s knowing how the orchestra plays, I am familiar with the various skills and theories, but it’s how the Ag Eisteacht model brings them all together."

-Michael, Counsellor, Cuan Mhuire, Bruree, Co. Limerick.

Course Evaluation

This programme will be measured up to Level 4 of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model looking at the degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the learning event and subsequent reinforcement. 

If you would like to discuss your organisation or group’s training needs and the option of commissioning this training please call Thérèse McDermott on 086 0423708 or contact her via email [email protected]

The course is offered as a commissioned training programme to organisations or regional groups within the homeless sector. The programme will have a time frame of approximately 2 months.

It consists of 3 Phases:

Phase 1:

  • A consultation with the organisation. Ag Eisteacht will gain a better understanding of the particular work and issues faced by frontline workers of each organisation and will tailor the programme content to reflect this
  • Agree a working alliance and clear timeline
  • A pre-course questionnaire

Phase 2:

  • Two workshops arranged as an initial training day (workshop one) followed approximately two weeks later by two consecutive training days (workshop two)
  • A reflective assignment 
  • A case study

There is a total of 22 hours, classroom based training in this phase. Two licensed experienced trainers will work with 12-16 participants. Attention is given to the different ways in which adults learn so that visual, auditory and experiential methods are used.
Each participant will be expected to complete a reflective essay after day one and add this to their learning log. The commissioning organisation is encouraged to schedule a meeting between each participant and their immediate line manager after each workshop to encourage the application of learning in practice. The post-course evaluation will measure changes in knowledge, skills and attitudes and provide feedback on participants’ experience of the workshops.
Each participant will be expected to submit a case study assignment after workshop two. This will focus on each participant’s personal experience of ABLE in practice, and this will form the basis of their class presentation.

Phase 3:

Phase 3:

3-4 weeks post training, participants will attend a final one day workshop to include:

  • Revise the ABLE model and demonstrate the associated skills through class presentations, based on participants’ case studies of their personal application of ABLE in practice (ten minute presentation followed by ten minute class feedback)
  • An exploration of the role that self-care and personal resilience play in service delivery and in ongoing personal and professional development.


  • Input on areas identified by participants in feedback from phase 2

Overall learning aims

The ABLE programme is designed to:

  • Equip practitioners with the knowledge, skills and confidence to adopt a relational approach to their practice, informed by research including Brain Science evidence which links relational well-being to health outcomes.
  • Explore, through the course material, experiential learning exercises and group discussions, the current research on and application of reflective functioning i.e. “the uniquely human capacity…to make sense of each other” (Peter Fonagy, 2002). 
  • Relate the stages of family life to service users’ situations and consider ways in which the evidence based information on relationship stages, coupled with key messages from conflict research, can help service users build relationships.

Overall learning outcomes

Following the training, participants will be able to:

  1. Use the skills of the brief intervention model ABLE in day to day practice to provide opportunities to clients and colleagues, to share concerns and challenges they face in establishing and / maintaining healthy and supportive relationships.
  2. Identify the challenges service users may have in building supportive relationships and gain insights into what their behaviour may mean using evidence based information
  3. Incorporate mentalisation based skills (i.e. perceiving and interpreting human behaviour in terms of intentional mental states e.g. needs, desires, feelings, beliefs, goals, purposes, and reasons) into their work and outline how they will continue to develop these.

This training is part funded by Electric Ireland Energy for Generations Fund and by Ag Eisteacht. The remaining cost is to be covered by the commissioning organisation or group at a charge of €3,250 for a group of 16 participants. Organisations can opt to co-commission the training with a compatible organisation subject to agreement with Ag Eisteacht. This would be at a rate of €1,625 for 8 participants, €850 for 4 participants and €250 for an individual place. 

For those frontline practitioners requiring evidence of Continuing Professional Development we provide a Certificate of Attendance which states the number of workshop hours completed. The training also encourages reflective practice and worksheets are provided with reflective practice questions that can be completed and added to a practitioner’s CPD portfolio.

The training has also been accredited by the Irish Association of Social Workers, Social Care Ireland and the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland.

Commissioned Initiatives

We are happy to tailor our ABLE model to meet your team's specific training needs. If you would like to discuss the various options available for commissioning training, please call Thérèse on 021 5005915 or email [email protected] 

Contact Us

Ag Eisteacht, 2nd Floor, 24 South Bank,
Crosses Green, Cork.
Email: [email protected]

From inside Ireland: 021 5005915

From outside Ireland: +353 215005915

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