Drug and alcohol service offers vital support in Didcot area

Eight months since first opening the door to people with drug and alcohol problems, a new service in Didcot is proving to be a valuable addition to communities across south Oxfordshire.

Commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council, Turning Point took on the contract for substance misuse treatment in April. Based in a purpose built office in Didcot, they offer services designed to support drug addicts and alcoholics looking to recover.

With a focus on ensuring service users access psychosocial support as well as medical treatment, Turning Point’s approach aims to support the person to tackle the underlying reasons for their problem.

The hub is centrally located on Station Road and is open five days a week. On Mondays and Tuesdays they open late to accommodate people who work and want to come in at the end of the day. A daily programme offers a range of group work sessions, one-to-one counselling and medical support from professionals such as nurse specialising in blood-borne viruses. Service users can also access activities such as boxing and a football team and a very popular peer mentor scheme offers people the chance to volunteer with the service, offering hope to others as they show what can be achieved.

The staff also provide a service to the towns of Abingdon and Henley, with a drop-in service currently running half a day per week in each*.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Hilary Hibbert-Biles, said: “Drugs and alcohol can pose a severe problem to people from all walks of life and the effects of an addiction can be far reaching, both in terms of their own health and the health and wellbeing of their family and friends. It is vital to have a service which can provide the necessary treatment and support to those who want to make changes, and it is very positive news from the Didcot hub so far.”

Didcot Hub manager, Kerry Raymond, from Turning Point, said: “We are now averaging around 15 referrals to us each week and have around 360 clients engaged with us. I think this shows there is a real need for a service here in the south of the county and it has been fantastic to see clients respond to the way we work by reducing or detoxing or, in four cases, going into rehab.

“We have also had tremendous support from our partners such as local GP practices, Thames Valley Police and the social care teams at Oxfordshire County Council. Working together is key when trying to make a difference to the lives of people who are often struggling or quite chaotic, so this is very positive.”

It isn’t just the staff who think it is going well. Service users themselves are full of praise for the team and what they offer. One woman who has recently started attending the hub said she has waited years for help like that which is on offer: “I’ve been to some therapy groups which are really heavy and where it just feels like all people do is talk about their problems. Here, the facilitators are great at helping us to look at coping strategies so it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

*Abingdon drop-in is based at the Methodist church on Ock Street from 1-5pm on Wednesdays and Henley drop-in is based in the D:Two centre between 9am and 3pm on Fridays.

More information about what’s on offer at the Didcot hub and at Turning Point hubs in Banbury, Oxford and Witney can be found online at http://www.turning-point.co.uk/oxfordshire-roads-to-recovery

Service users can find more information, stories and tools at http://wellbeing.turning-point.co.uk/oxfordshire/