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Suffolk rehab centre which helped Russell Brand and Davina McCall to close

PUBLISHED: 16:33 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 22:17 19 July 2018

GV of Focus12,  in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: MATT REASON

GV of Focus12, in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: MATT REASON

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A Suffolk drug and alcohol addiction charity which has helped celebrities including Russell Brand and has been credited with "saving lives" is to close next month, it has been confirmed.

Focus12's building at 82 Risbygate Street with its iconic green door was sold last year as a cost saving measure
Picture: MATT REASONFocus12's building at 82 Risbygate Street with its iconic green door was sold last year as a cost saving measure Picture: MATT REASON

Focus12 rehabilitation centre has been operating from its base in Bury St Edmunds for more than 21 years, providing a much needed service to the local community and beyond.

In 2012, the Amy Winehouse Foundation donated £30,000 to the charity, which was used to fund an annex at the Risbygate Street premises for youngsters battling addiction. Television presenter Davina McCall is also a patron.

The shock announcement that it is to shut down comes after the charity was criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) when inspectors visited the Risbygate premises unannounced earlier this year.

The report, which criticised governance, management and staff training, judged the quality of care based on inspectors’ findings as well as information from patients, and a number of demands were made for improvements.

Mitch and Jane Winehouse of the Amy Winehouse Foundation when they officially open The Annexe at Focus12, with former CEO Chip Somers Picture: ARCHANTMitch and Jane Winehouse of the Amy Winehouse Foundation when they officially open The Annexe at Focus12, with former CEO Chip Somers Picture: ARCHANT

At the time, staff at the charity, which employs 12 people, said the criticisms were “justified” and they pledged to put things right.

But today it has been announced that Focus12 will close for good early August. In a statement, the charity said the closure was due to the changing residential rehab landscape and funding, coupled with increased costs to meet legal and clinical requirements.

Lower client numbers have also made the current business model “very difficult to sustain”, according to the charity.

The decision was taken with the full agreement of the chief executive officer and trustees of Focus12 who had earlier this year sold its property in Risbygate Street to reduce overheads.

Tony Kimber, who was previously commercial director at St Edmundsbury Cathedral and became chief executive at Focus12 last year, described it as “a very sad day” for all connected with Focus12.

He added: “I am immensely proud of all of the caring and dedicated staff that have worked and volunteered at Focus12 since it began.

“Their professionalism and commitment in helping people turn their lives around has produced miracles over the years and I know many people who say Focus12 and the team here simply ‘saved their life’.

“The staff can take huge pride from this. We are now working hard to make sure that existing clients successfully complete their recovery programme and will support our staff as much as is possible as they move on.”

During the past two decades, Focus12 has helped hundreds of clients and has saved the lives of people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, and provided support, help and guidance to thousands of their family members.

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