Two Bristol Drug Centres Will Close

Two drugs projects which have helped thousands of addicts are set to close their drop-in services as cash to run them is sent elsewhere.

Southmead Project and Knowle West Against Drugs say they have not been allocated the funding they need to keep the doors of their centres open to drug and alcohol addicts beyond the end of next month.

Each has been told it will get a share of £100,000 to help give advice to parents and carers of addicts across the city.

But that represents a massive cut, as each was given more than £200,000 last year, and drop-in services look set to be sacrificed.

It is not the first time the projects have been under threat. Two years ago Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) won a contract to provide services in the city but the Southmead Project and KWADS were given a reprieve, when extra funds were allocated through the Safer Bristol Partnership.

BDP, which will receive an additional £3 million National Treatment Agency funding from April, is now set to cover each area along with the rest of the city with its mobile bus service, providing a needle exchange for injecting addicts along with advice.

KWADS and the Southmead Project’s last round of funding came from the Government’s Neighbourhood Renewal fund, which is coming to an end, along with European Union money that is no longer available.

A £100,000 award to given to KWADS to organise a carers project across the city, incorporating the Southmead Project, is not enough to save drop-in services for users and the jobs of some staff members.

KWADS currently has 118 drug users on its books, along with 82 parents and carers, while the Southmead Project currently caters for 59 addicts and 57 parents or carers.

The KWADS team is concerned that the only drop-in cover in the area from April will be for two-and-a-half hours every week day from BDP’s mobile harm reduction bus.

They feel this will not provide the depth of service needed.

Chief executive Kate Croucher said: “We are very, very concerned about the loss of our other services.

“We obviously can give harm reduction advice but we also help a client group, such as cannabis users, that are not going to queue up next to somebody injecting and they are not going to get parent care.

“We have clients coming in every day of the week, to get advice day to day. We help people fill in forms, they come in for coffee and cereal but also when they are in crisis and chaos we give them counselling.

“Needle exchanges are very worthwhile and needed but have a different service and the whole range of things is needed and I do not think it can deliver, although I’m not saying the staff aren’t trained to.”

Ms Croucher said KWADS had the backing of local councillors and will continue to campaign for the funds to deliver a fuller service.

Richard Lenni, who works with parents and carers of people with substance misuse, is concerned about the messages closing projects sends out.

He said for parents and carers of drug users, failing to renew funding was like “pulling the carpet out from under their feet”.

Chief executive of Southmead Project, Mike Peirce, said: “Southmead Project and KWADS started in the early 90s against a similar background to that which we are witnessing today – one organisation being asked to handle the huge problem.

“To close the door on addicts because of the so-called lack of funds means it is increasingly likely we will see our communities revert back to that most unacceptable of scenarios.”

KWADS co-founder Denise Britt, who still gives educational talks at schools and prisons, said: “I think it will be a shame that the service will have to close, and there will be a lot of people suffering because of it, but there is more help out there now for people with drug problems.”

Fellow co-founder Anita Pearce said: “I think probably because there are a lot of other things and schools have taken up drugs education KWADS is probably not as needed as it has been, but it will be sad because the community suffers as well.”