A new drugs and alcohol service will be launched in Gloucestershire as police continue to tackle the issue of street drinkers in Gloucester city centre.
From January next year the social care and health charity Change, Grow, Live will provide drugs and alcohol support for people across the county for the next five years.
CGL will operate from centres in central Gloucester, Stroud and Cheltenham, and provide services including health and wellbeing interventions, assessment and recovery planning, clinical services, housing advice, links into employment, training and education, recovery support and substance misuse training for local organisations.
The announcement comes as Gloucester continues to be blighted by street beggars, rough sleepers and people who drink excessively and take legal highs in public. Charity Easton, director at CGL said she was pleased to have been awarded the contract. She said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with such an able and expert group of local partners, to ensure the best provision we can across the county.
"Our model enables those people who may not have had contact with substance misuse services before – perhaps because of stigma or concerns attached to attending 'substance misuse services' - to access our team and whilst maintaining support for current services users through a range of community connection points."
Police say there has been a significant reduction in the number of people openly begging on the streets of Gloucester, and efforts are being made to curb homelessness and street drinking. But Rich Burge, manager of Gloucester City Safe, said it's difficult to tell whether the issue is really going away. He said: "Anything these organisations can do to deal with these issues will be very welcome for Gloucester City Safe and businesses here.
"There's a lot of begging in the city and a lot of begging to fund drug habits. A lot of the shoplifters, particularly prolific offenders, are stealing to fund drug and alcohol habits."
CGL was given the contract after Gloucestershire County Council carried out a review of its public health services for the first time since they were transferred from the NHS in 2013. CGL will work closely with partners, including Barnardo's and Young Gloucestershire, to help more young people between 18 and 24. Acting early to give young adults the specialist help they need is a key priority for the council. Councillor Andrew Gravells, county council cabinet member for public health (C, Abbey), said: "This is an essential service that will help provide vulnerable people struggling with drugs and alcohol misuse the support they need.
"Hundreds of people across Gloucestershire struggle with alcohol and drug problems – and this contract will make it easier for them to get the help they need, in more places across Gloucestershire, at a time to suit them.
"I'm really pleased we can offer extra help to young adults in particular – giving them the help they need to get clean, stay clean and get on with their lives."
By Matt Discombe - Gloucestershire Live/Sept. 22, 2016
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