Let’s save the Iceni Project!

IPSWICH: A life-saving charity which became a beacon of hope following the murders of five Ipswich sex workers is today facing closure.

For more than a decade the Iceni Project has fought to provide care for those affected by the savage grip of crippling drug addiction.

But today, the award-winning charity – which gained nationwide acclaim following the killings of five Ipswich sex workers – faces extinction after the majority of its funding was cut.

Two weeks ago The Evening Star revealed that the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) could award funding to new tenders, leaving some of the region’s charities – including Iceni – to fend for themselves.

The DAAT has not revealed how much the contract is worth to Iceni but it is understood to be in the region of �260,000 a year.


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Since this revelation, our post bag has been inundated with a deluge of letters from furious readers voicing their disgust and concern that one of the town’s most respected organisations may be forced to close its doors.

The project was set up in 1998 with the aim of changing the lives of people addicted to drugs.

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Iceni hit the national headlines four years ago when it emerged that it had worked to help some of the women murdered by Steve Wright in 2006.

Members of staff have launched an online petition, hoping that the town’s large host of supporters will voice their concerns over the decision, which is expected to be formally announced tomorrow.

In a statement on the Iceni website, the charity said it had been “plunged” into a “funding crisis”.

“Iceni has for over ten years delivered an excellent and effective service to the very heart of the communities of Ipswich and were instrumental in assisting many women off the streets of Ipswich and out of prostitution in the aftermath of the murders in 2006,” the statement reads.

To help support the project’s fight for survival, visit www.iceniipswich.org.uk and sign the petition.

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Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has spoken of his fury that faceless “quangocrats” have given a death knell to the much-loved – and vitally-needed – Iceni project in Ipswich.

I can’t begin to tell you how angry and frustrated I am at the likely closure of the Iceni project in Ipswich.

In Suffolk’s county town, where there are still deep and shuddering memories of the Ipswich killings of just a few years ago, the Iceni charity has become a beacon of hope to many in despair.

Iceni staff are remarkable people – doing a vital job on funding provided by central government, via the quango known as DAAT, the Suffolk Drug and Alcohol Action Team.

They deal with serious drugs addicts, ex-offenders and people who might go into prison without their intervention.

And they are incredibly good value for money – working on a shoestring they get some of the highest rehab rates in the country.

And let’s recall this is the town where five much-loved women, themselves drugs addicts trapped by their habit in a desperate world, were lured from the streets and killed.

And now the funding that is helping so many is about to end because of plain and simple bad decision making.

The quango involved is working on outdated rules from an outdated age, and on terms handed down by a government long gone.

So I’ve been fighting, with all the power I possess, to end this farce – and get Iceni the funding to keep it going.

If change has to come, then it has to come sensibly and reasonably – we do not want to throw any babies out in hastily-ditched bathwater.

I want everyone to be completely clear about what is happening here.

The PCT (Primary Care Trust) and the county council have one last chance.

They can either opt to follow through with this tender process, dreamt up by the previous government, or they can chose to support local charities and be at the forefront of the rehabilitation revolution the new government has begun.

Local charities are signed up to this new approach – and support it; now we need these quangocrats to do the same.

I want to be straight with the two main bodies involved.

To the PCT: you are being abolished soon, precisely because you are so remote from Suffolk and Ipswich people.

Now’s your chance to show that you really do care about us, which is what you always claim to do.

And to the county council: this is your chance to show that outsourcing of services will be good for Ipswich and Suffolk people.

If you fluff this one, then no one will have any faith in what you are attempting to do.

Show some backbone – and face down the bureaucrats who want you to take the easy option.

This is your chance to do the right thing.

I can tell you, if you get it wrong, not only will you kill wonderful local charities but you will face the anger of Ipswich people and their MP.

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