Support service for addicts under threat

A LACK of funding may end a vital service supporting people fighting addiction.

The Norwich-based addiction charity Norcas has been self-funding its hostel in-reach service for people with drug and alcohol problems in Bury St Edmunds for the past six months after local government funding was withdrawn. It says money will run out in March unless new income is found.

The charity’s head of fund-raising, Matt Wilson, said the service helped to stabilise their clients enabling them to keep their hostel accommodation and, eventually, see them into individual housing and, often, jobs.

He said hostel providers welcomed the service because it prevented potential disruption, the police recognised it reduced offences and the hospitals saw it as reducing admissions.

He added: “The cost of processing one person through the prison system far outweighs those of this service. This probably costs £30,000 to £35,000 a year to run.

“By doing this we’re producing exactly what David Cameron was talking about with ‘Big Society’ – a one-person service directly helping 60-odd people a year in a way which directly affects society.

“If it wasn’t there, society would certainly notice the impact. It’s kind of good people don’t know it’s there because that means it’s successful.”

He said the charity’s work was not widely known, partly because of client confidentiality. But he added: “We’re a 33-year-old charity but if you haven’t been touched by drug, alcohol or gambling problems, it’s not something you talk about.

“But these problems don’t discriminate. We work with a massive spectrum of people from all walks of life.”

The in-reach service supports people in Britannia House, Tayfen House, the YMCA and Genesis Housing’s hostels in Springfield Road, Grove Road and Northgate Lodge in Bury, plus others in Haverhill.

It targets people who are at risk of losing their accommodation due to drink and drugs problems.

Treatments include psychological interventions, social engagement support and liaising with external clinical treatment providers. Its workers also accompany people on appointments, including to doctors and housing providers.