IPSWICH: Iceni fight goes worldwide

IPSWICH: From as far away as Barbados, Singapore and Canada, people have joined in a worldwide fight to save Ipswich-based drugs rehabilitation charity Iceni.

Today more than 1,200 people have signed an online petition to save the organisation from closure after the majority of its funding was cut.

Just a week after The Evening Star launched a campaign to save Iceni, based in Foundation Street, 1,210 people have already put their names to the petition calling for the life-saving charity to be rescued from the brink of collapse.

Their lifeblood – government-backed funding – has been severed after they lost out in a recent tender bidding process to larger national charities, resulting in its contract with the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) being terminated as of April next year.

Astounded by the far-reaching support the campaign has attracted, co-founder of the Iceni Project, Brian Tobin, is today hoping there maybe someone who can help raise the estimated �300,000 needed to keep the charity afloat.

He said he is “absolutely gobsmacked” by people’s support for the charity, which became a beacon of hope following Steve Wright’s murder spree when he killed five sex workers in 2006.

“It is unbelievable,” said Mr Tobin. “Some of the messages on the petition are from some of the very senior drugs practitioners in the country.

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“To receive recognition from people whose names I have heard of and work admired but never met is amazing.

“People keep telling me they feel helpless, but this support gives us a huge sense of value, locally, nationally and now worldwide.

“If people see this reaction to the farcical decision and huge injustice, it may prompt them to tell friends of friends and there may be someone out there who can help.

“I think Ipswich is a fantastic town, maybe in part it is down to the murders. People’s attitudes changed after that and it is a credit to the people involved and evident from the support we have seen.”

He said more than 3,000 people have received help from Iceni in the 12 years since they were established and, year-on-year, the charity has met and exceeded key performance indicators set by DAAT, averaging a 71 per cent success rate.

Mr Tobin added: “A cruel injustice has been served on Iceni and the people of Ipswich and Suffolk have been dealt a huge disservice by nothing more than an elitist group of individuals who agreed to proceed with an archaic tendering process that prevented Iceni from standing any realistic change of winning a competitive tender.

“Based on the flimsiest of evidence, such people are responsible for potentially destroying one of the most well-regarded and successful treatment providers in the country.

“National organisations that chase the funding cannot have the same commitment to Ipswich as Iceni, which has forged enduring ties to the community because we were set up and are run by local people.”

n What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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