Region to get new drugs treatment centre

By Dave GooderhamTHE man behind a well-established counselling service in East Anglia for people battling drink and drug addiction has confirmed a second centre will open soon.

By Dave Gooderham

THE man behind a well-established counselling service in East Anglia for people battling drink and drug addiction has confirmed a second centre will open soon.

Chip Somers, founder of the Focus Counselling Services in Bury St Edmunds, said a second treatment centre was expected to open next month in Mildenhall.

Mr Somers added: "There are not enough services in any part of the United Kingdom to fully cope with drug and alcohol problems.

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"A counselling centre will be opening soon in Mildenhall, where we will helping to provide individual therapy and additional services for family members and carers."

The centre will be located in the Old Post Office in Mill Street and operate during weekday office hours.

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Forest Heath Crime Reduction Partnership has given the scheme £6,000 towards initial operating costs and basic furnishing for the centre, which was welcomed by police and councillors.

Inspector Nick Bennett, of Mildenhall police, said: "The new counselling centre represents a very significant improvement to the treatment services available to people who have substance misuse problems.

"We're confident this facility will divert problem drug users away from crime and enable them to lead a healthier lifestyle.

"A significant proportion of recorded crime in our area is committed by a very small number of addicts – if we can tackle their addiction, we can substantially reduce crime."

John Tayor, chairman of the Forest Heath crime prevention panel, added: "This facility will provide Mildenhall with the support services that are required by people who have drink and drug problems.

"It is not a drop-in centre, people will only go there by appointment and when the appropriate counsellor is available to see them.

"The parish council are aware of a suspicion that there is quite a lot of addiction in the area which causes associated problems."

Though the exact remit of the Mildenhall base is as yet unknown, it is hoped the services provided will be as successful as the Bury St Edmunds centre.

After operating from a flat in Churchgate Street for three years, a new £250,000 unit was opened in Risbygate Street last year by Focus patron and self-confessed former drug addict, Davina McCall.

A culmination of five years of fundraising, the centre includes rooms for groups, lectures and one-to-one counselling and a common room and gymnasium.

The charity caters for drug addicts in the early stages of recovery and people with other problems, including stress, grief and family and relationship issues.

Mr Somers, a former heroin addict who set up the counselling service in 1997, said: "Our centre in Bury is a much more structured, full-time programme. The service is going very well and we are completely full all of the time."

Focus can be contacted on 01284 701702 or for more information visit its website at

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