Turning Point receives ‘outstanding’ rating and host of glowing endorsements

An ‘outstanding’ rating following a recent Care Quality Commission inspection is something to shout about.

But it is the glowing endorsements of service users which really speaks volumes about the work taking place at Turning Point.

The community drug and alcohol service provides comprehensive treatment and care for any adults in Oxfordshire experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol.

Turning Point is commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team and has treatment hubs in Oxford, Banbury, Didcot and Witney.

The public health team exists to improve the health of local people and protect Oxfordshire people from preventable health issues – helping local residents live safe and healthy lives and play an active role in their communities.

Cry for help

Turning Point sees about 1,000 people a week pass through its doors. Among them is 38-year-old Edward Knight, who had been using heroin and crack cocaine on and off for about 20 years.

Drug use had already put paid to a promising football career. At his lowest ebb he deliberately held up a shop and was sent to prison for robbery and attempted robbery.

It was a cry for help that worked. He got clean in jail and his release included conditions that he attend Turning Point for ongoing rehabilitation.

Edward, from Abingdon, explained: “I was a bit reluctant to do that initially. I was maybe a bit arrogant, thinking ‘what can they do for me?’ But I’ve been absolutely blown away by the services here. The care and support is immense, even down to the staff I don’t really know.

“I’ve been to all the groups, from relapse to mindfulness, smart recovery and an after-care group. I’ve started doing voluntary work in the Refresh café. I’m training to be a peer mentor and I’ve started going to Ruskin College to study mental health and addiction.

“Here the support is ongoing and we’re grateful to have that service. I could go on all day about how great it is. I know deep inside that good things are going to come from all of this.”

Friendly face

Izzy Pappas, 41, of Oxford, was another to have been using heroin and crack cocaine for more than 20 years before finding solace at Turning Point.

“For the last six or seven years I’ve been in and out of rehab, getting detox and then suffering relapses. Coming here all the time to see people who want the best for us is brilliant.

“Even when I’ve given up on myself, these lot are just always here, checking I’m ok, reminding me about appointments, doing group work, working at the Refresh café. Having that friendly face when you come in just made my day.

“They went out of my way to help me get funding for my relapse and then when I got out, reminding me that my work wasn’t done. It has been that overall care package which I’m so grateful for. I’ve been clean for four months now. I’d like to give something back now.”

‘Best place I have ever been’

Owen Baily, 36, of Oxford, had been caught up in alcohol and gambling addictions for the past 15 to 16 years.

He said: “In March I had a breakdown exacerbated by a gambling relapse, and I developed an alcohol dependency as well. I reached a serious rock bottom and decided to reach out for help.

“Despite some initial resistance I’m really happy I decided to engage with Turning Point. Having engaged in treatment from start to finish and taken on everything that has been on offer it has been a really positive and helpful experience.

“After spending 16 years in and out of drug, alcohol and gambling dependency I am in the best place I have ever been. I have so much gratitude for Turning Point and have built up a lot of friends with people who I have been in treatment with.

“The staff have been very supportive, compassionate and warm. Now I am focusing on keeping well and doing everything I can to look after my wellbeing, putting into practice what I have learnt in treatment.

“I’m incredibly passionate about raising awareness of gambling-related harm and that’s something I’m actively doing both locally and nationally.”

‘If I did it, they can do it too’

Priscilla Flaherty, 30, of Oxford, was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine for 15 years. Turning Point found her about two years ago when she was in hospital with septicaemia.

She explained: “I had been too ashamed to get help from anyone. I didn’t want anyone to know what I was doing. I had been leading a double life for 13 years.

“Turning Point phoned me at the hospital and said I could get on to methadone. After six months in hospital I started coming to Turning Point in all sorts of states.

“One of the first things they said to me when I walked through the door, and I’ll never forget it, was ‘do you love yourself?’ And I said: ‘no I don’t think I do’. They said: ‘don’t worry, we’ll love you until you do’.

“I thought if someone can love me after everything I’ve done, then maybe I should love myself too. And today I do.

“I did three months in detox, came off methadone and then I went to rehab. And that was all through Turning Point. Now I want to give something back to this place. I want to walk next to whatever is going on here and support people. If I did it, they can do it too.”

Proven track record

Turning Point launched in Oxfordshire in 2015 and has a proven track record for delivering effective treatment outcomes.

Public Health England reports the following statistics for service users successfully completing treatment in Oxfordshire over the past 12 months:

  • Opiate users – 164 out of 1,658 (10.6%) have successfully completed treatment drug-free (2nd highest out of 33 local authority comparator groups)

  • Non-opiate users – 170 out of 316 (53.9%) have successfully completed treatment within specified pathway (Top quartile within local authority comparator groups)

  • Alcohol users – 262 out of 589 (57.2%) have successfully completed treatment within specified pathway (1st within local authority comparator groups)

Andy Symons, senior operations manager at Turning Point Oxfordshire, is justifiably proud of these statistics, which led to it receiving an ‘Inspired by Possibilities’ award as the highest Outcomes Performing Service.

And results from the recent CQC inspection are further proof of the outstanding work being done to support drug and alcohol users.

Working with partners

Andy said: “One of our proudest achievements coming out of the Turning Point CQC report was the quality of our work with our Oxfordshire partners. We work very closely with Thames Valley Police, particularly around vulnerabilities like modern-day slavery, child drug exploitation and County Lines drug dealing.

“We work closely with mental health services, homelessness and the joint work with Oxford University Hospitals, providing Hepatitis C treatment. Turning Point also works closely with the courts for offenders on community sentences such as drug rehabilitation requirements.”

This year marks Andy’s 25th with Turning Point. He managed a service in London for 18 years before launching the Oxfordshire service in 2015.

He said: “There is no waiting list here and treatment is available today for those who need it and we have many people who are turning their lives around.

“Turning Point is committed to enabling people who use drugs and alcohol to make changes. Often we’re trying to motivate the unmotivated to make positive changes in their lives, their families and the local community.

“When people first come to Turning Point we focus on harm reduction, helping people who are often in chaos and desperately need support and somebody to show them there is a different life.

“Turning Point is more than just tea and sympathy and we work to enable people to move on and make positive changes in their lives. It is a real privilege to hear the inspiring stories of people who have often spent many years in addiction and made huge steps in their recovery to become substance free and leading positive lives in the community.”

Cllr Lawrie Stratford, Cabinet member for public health, has visited Turning Point to witness first-hand the good work being done.

“Turning Point can feel justifiably proud of the work it is doing in our communities to help those people wanting to turn their lives around.

“Results from the recent CQC inspection are proof, if it was needed, that we have an excellent service on our doorstep working hard and engaging with partners to make a difference to people’s lives.”