independent

Sunday 26 October 2014

Addiction refuge in battle to save its very existence

FUNDING CUT MEANS THE BILL W CLUB, WHICH HELPS THOSE BATTLING ADDICTION, HAS AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE, WRITES HARRY KEANEY

Published 01/01/2013 | 11:52

FOR MOST people, Christmas is a time of good cheer. But for those battling addiction, it can be among the most trying times of all.

Now there are fears in Sligo that one oasis of calm for such people may be under threat.

Since October 2008, the Bill W Club has been helping some of those tormented by addiction.

At present, it helps about 35 people and their families.

But without Drugs Task Force funding of more than €30,000 for the past six months, it may have to close its doors, according to founder Aubrey Melville.

Mr. Sean O'Connor, coordinator of the Northwest Regional Drugs Task Force confirmed to The Sligo Champion that the Bill W Club was no longer in receipt of money from the Task Force.

He said the funding ceased because of non-compliance with terms and conditions set out by the Department of Health for receipt of such funding.

He added that the decision had been a difficult one but he claimed it was "in the interest of the client group in the long term."

In addition, Mr. O'Connor confirmed that it had now been decided by the Task Force to tender for a new structured daycare programme for Sligo town and county.

The Bill W Club, based in John Street, was founded by Aubrey Melville.

He sees the Drugs Task Force proposal to tender for a new day care programme for Sligo Town and surrounding area as "duplication".

He said: "We differ from a drop-in centre in that the care we provide is continuous.

"We give people options on which path to take on their way to recovery.

"When people with addiction are in rehabilitation, they are in a bubble and their family is in chaos.

"When they come out of rehabilitation, they have to face reality and the majority cannot face reality.

"What the Bill W Club does is help them deal with reality on a daily basis. And if they fall, we can help pick them up. We are a vision beyond addiction."

Now, Mr. Melville, himself a former alcoholic who has been sober for 25 years, has vowed to retain the Bill W Club as it is, and keep its services available to those who need it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every week of the year.

And that includes Christmas!

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