Drug charity has to turn people away

A SUFFOLK drug charity has to turn people away with cannabis addictions because of a funding shortfall from the Government. The Iceni Project in Ipswich says it receives half as much money from the Government for people struggling with Class B and Class C drugs than it does for those struggling with Class A - such as heroin and cocaine.

A SUFFOLK drug charity has to turn people away with cannabis addictions because of a funding shortfall from the Government.

The Iceni Project in Ipswich says it receives half as much money from the Government for people struggling with Class B and Class C drugs than it does for those struggling with Class A - such as heroin and cocaine.

Because of this the drug charity has only been able to help those with Class A problems since April.

Brian Tobin, director of the Iceni Project, said: “This Government is primarily concerned with Class A drugs and that is reflected in the funding that we receive. We would have to treat two people with cannabis problems for every one with a cocaine problem.

“We are not happy turning people away and when we founded this organisation we said that we would treat anybody whose lives have been affected by the use of drugs. We do not distinguish between drugs - if you are an addict, you are an addict. But Class A drugs are far more emotive for the Government in terms of criminality and health, cannabis users are a different clientele.”

Mr Tobin said he felt the Government gave out mixed messages about cannabis and said it had been hard to turn people away.

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He said: “For an individual to come in here and say they have issues with drugs is difficult enough because of the shame and guilt about it. It has been heartbreaking to turn them away.”

Mr Tobin said he wanted more direction from the Government and said that cannabis users may be tempted into harder drugs.

He added: “I would not say that it is definitive that people move onto hard drugs but if cannabis no longer meets a need in their life then they may try different drugs. It is a concern.”

The Iceni Project has played a large part in the attempts by the community to rid Ipswich of street prostitution following the murders of five prostitutes by Steve Wright. But he warned that despite its success, the community still needed to keep the prostitution issue high on the agenda.

He said: “We received £10,000 last year from organisations in the community and this year we received £1,000 so in terms of a simplistic view financial support is diminishing quite significantly. I think part of the community just wanted it to disappear and go away but for those of us involved at the sharp end we need to keep it higher on the agenda so that it does not come back.

“It is still amazing me with the success that we are having. Intelligence tells us that most nights nobody is out there but the supply is no longer there because of the police kerb crawling strategy.”

A spokesman for the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, said: “Central Government support for drug treatment has increased by 575 per cent since 2000/01. From 2008/09 Pooled Treatment Budget funding (which totals £398m) will largely be allocated on a per person treated basis. This will direct resources to those areas with the highest number of people in treatment and ensure that we maximise benefits to the community, achieve more efficient services and a fairer allocation of the funds available. We are confident there is enough funding available to the drug action partnership in Suffolk to fund treatment for everyone who needs it in the area.”

n. Have you found it difficult to get treatment for drugs? Contact The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or email starnews@eveningstar.co.uk