Blow dealt to drug services in new proposals

DRUG rehabilitation charities in Suffolk are facing an uncertain future after it emerged that their funding could be under threat.

Award–winning charities such as Iceni Project – which gained nationwide acclaim for tackling street prostitution in Ipswich – and Focus12 – which has helped stars such as Russell Brand and Davina McCall to kick hard drugs – face possible cuts after it emerged that Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team Partnership (Suffolk DAAT) could award funding to new tenders.

The EADT believes that other services set to face proposed funding cuts include NORCAS and the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust.

The proposals come as a massive blow to Suffolk’s drug charities, which depend on funding and donations.

Chip Somers, founder of Bury St Edmunds-based addiction charity Focus12, said his charity would lose �130,000 in funding from its �450,000 annual turnover.

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“It is a massive loss for us,” he said. “We will have to be extremely careful with our funding. We will have to find other sources of income – it is a big blow for us.”

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said that he was “deeply disappointed” to hear of the proposal and that he would fight in hope that Iceni could be included in the plans.

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“Iceni is a remarkable charity and I will continue to support it, just like many others do,” he said. “I will continue to fight for Iceni and I really hope that we can secure some funding – I would like to see it included in the proposals somewhere because of the work it does in Ipswich.”

The drug action team have not revealed how much the contract is worth to Iceni, but it is understood to be in the region of �260,000 per year.

A press release on Suffolk DAAT’s website revealed that the funding shake up could see the funding given to the Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI) and Open Road.

In the release, Dr Amanda Jones, chairperson for Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT), said: “The DAAT partnership looks forward to working with the new providers, and those currently providing services to ensure that people in Suffolk receive the best treatment and support during the transfer period.

“Current services are highly regarded in Suffolk, and I am convinced that the new providers will be able to further improve on the quality and scope of services ordered within Suffolk.”

The online press release was removed from the site within hours.

If the new proposed services get the go ahead, the contracts would begin in April 2011.

The funding awards are all currently provisional and are under a ten day “standstill period’’ which will allow the affected organisations time for consultation.

The Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team Partnership said they were unable to comment. A spokesperson for NORCAS said she was also unable to comment at the current time, meanwhile Iceni declined to comment. The Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust were unavailable.

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