Drug charity in cash plea

WORKERS at a drug rehabilitation charity say the public needs to wake-up to the problems of drug and alcohol abuse which destroy lives.Chip Somers, who runs the Bury St Edmunds-based Focus drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit, said the crucial facility is in danger of closing due to a lack of Government funding.

WORKERS at a drug rehabilitation charity say the public needs to wake-up to the problems of drug and alcohol abuse which destroy lives.

Chip Somers, who runs the Bury St Edmunds-based Focus drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit, said the crucial facility is in danger of closing due to a lack of Government funding.

Mr Somers claims it is the public's reluctance to accept the area's drug and alcohol abuse problems, and its subsequent lack of support, which was putting the centre most at risk.

The charity has now secured the help of its television star patron and former addict Davina McCall, who has agreed to stage a number of fundraising events to help the centre, which successfully manages to take around 40 addicts a year out of criminal circles.


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"We are having major problems securing appropriate funding for the level of service we provide. The Government only gives us 42% of what is costs to provide our services, which means we have to find more than £100,000 a year to stay open," said Mr Somers.

"Fundraising that amount here is proving extremely difficult because there is a lack of awareness in the county and there seems to be a tendency to protect the Suffolk idyll.

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"There is a huge amount of public denial over the size of the drug and drink culture in Suffolk."

Focus has been running for seven years and has been based at a purpose built centre at Risbygate Street since 2002, which was officially opened by McCall.

The centre caters for up to 16 addicts a time and treats 75 people a year on its full-time rehabilitation programmes. It also helps 20 people a week on individual programmes and runs a support service for the families of addicts.

Focus is the only dedicated centre in Suffolk to getting people off drink and drugs

Mr Somers said last year Focus was £40,000 short with fundraising, which means it needs to raise £120,000 for 2004/05 or face closure.

"Raising this amount is going to be extremely difficult without increased Government funding and public support," he added.

Davina McCall will stage two charity nights at the Roof Garden club in Kensington in aid of Focus, which are expected to raise £30,000.

Another fundraising event is being held at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone from July 9-11, where people pay £100 for a draw ticket for a chance to win a Porsche car.

But it will not be enough to raise the £120,000 needed.

Mr Somers added: "I can't thank Davina enough for her support, we wouldn't be here at all if it wasn't for her help, but we still need to raise more.

"It is essential that we survive. Every year we are successfully taking 35 to 40 addicts out of the criminal system. Police statistics show using addicts steal an average £100 a day, so for every addict that is around £36,000 a year. If you consider the numbers we are getting away from crime that is over £1million of social damage saved.

"Not to have a rehabilitation service like ours in Suffolk would be very short-sighted and I urge people to get behind us."

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