Ipswich: Iceni battle goes to Government

WESTMINSTER: The battle to save the Iceni Project has been taken to the heart of government.

The Evening Star, which is campaigning to save the popular Foundation Street charity, joined a delegation from Ipswich which pleaded for Iceni’s future with minister Nick Hurd.

The Cabinet Office minister could give no firm promises about support for the charity but said a new fund was being set up to help small groups.

Mr Hurd said: “There will be money available from a transition fund for charities to tide themselves over as the government looks to work with them in the future.

“I can give you no promises but I would encourage you to apply for support through the Big Lottery Fund.”

The Ipswich delegation was led by Brian Tobin, the founder of the Iceni Project, and borough council leader Liz Harsant after the meeting was arranged by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.

Mrs Harsant told Mr Hurd she was concerned about the lack of accountability about the recent decision by the Suffolk Drug And Alcohol Team (DAAT) to strip a number of charities, including Iceni, of its funding.

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Instead the funding will be given to two services based outside the region.

Mrs Harsant also pointed out that 65 per cent of Suffolk’s drug users were in Ipswich – and there was concern that an alternative service would not be based in the heart of the town.

Service user Sarah Grimwood, whose story we told in the Star last week, also met Mr Hurd – and he seemed genuinely moved as she told him how Iceni had helped her to get her life back on track.

During the meeting, The Evening Star told Mr Hurd about the tremendous support that the campaign to save Iceni had gained across the community in Ipswich.

He saw copies of the Star which highlighted the fight and he saw the number of people who had written letters of support for Iceni since news of its plight became public.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Hurd said: “It is quite clear that this charity has great public support and I am very concerned to hear about the problems that are facing it.

“This is clearly a very serious situation for the charity and I am impressed to hear about its record of success – thank you for bringing our attention to it and while we cannot promise anything I have taken note of what I have heard.”

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