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Council criticised for letting national organisation take over Newham’s drugs and alcohol service

11:44 11 July 2014

An attempt to change Newham’s drugs and alcohol provision could reduce the effectiveness of the service, according to the CEO of a local charity.

Sue Kenten, from DASL, has criticised the council’s decision to end her charity’s contract to provide commissioned drug and alcohol services after 30 years and instead award the contract to national organisation CRI.

In a statement posted on the charity’s website, she said: “People with drug and alcohol problems do not approach services easily and everyone working in this area will know that it is not a simple, linear treatment journey. Large multi-million pound national charities do not have the monopoly on knowing what works.”

Speaking to the Recorder, Sue admitted that although the council had an obligation to ensure the best service for its clients, she believes that the changeover will cause issues for those in need of help.

“It’s not easy and the whole process of transferring from one to the other causes disruption for clients,” she said. “There are the financial implications too, with the cost of buying new furniture and other pieces.”

She pointed out that DASL had below national average waiting times for alcohol users while its successful completion rates fot treatment were above the national average. A contract working in partnership with the East London Foundation Trust in the past year further increased the service’s effectiveness and performance.

DASL, which recently introduced help with problem gambling in response to the local need, will remain at its Capital House base in Stratford and Sue hopes that it will continue to have a visible presence in the borough, as well as providing help in other areas of London.

A spokeswoman from Newham Council said it had retendered its drug and alchol services to ensure it continued to meet the needs of people using the service and provided value for money.

“The contract was awarded to CRI who are a national organisation with a strong reputation for delivering drug and alcohol services,” she added. “They met all the criteria in the tender process. We are pleased that CRI are working in partnership with a number of local service user charities including Air Football to deliver this programme of support. This will ensure that Newham residents affected by these issues can shape these services so they best meet their needs.”

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