Addiction charity Blenheim celebrates 50th birthday

Wandsworth Guardian: Former members, staff and Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Angela Graham Former members, staff and Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Angela Graham

A charity helping substance abusers to turn their lives around, is celebrating its 50th year in operation.

Since it was founded in 1964, Blenheim have supported thousands of people struggling with addiction.

Integrated Drug and Alcohol Services (IDAS), offer therapy sessions to help alcoholics and drug users break free from their addiction.

On Wednesday March 26 they held a celebratory coffee morning to mark the anniversary.

The event, which ran between 10am-12pm, was attended by members of staff and those they support.

33-year-old Raffael Liistro, from Wandsworth, came to the charity in 2007 for help with alcohol addiction.

He said: "The police referred me here after I was caught shoplifting.

"I was in a terrible place in my life and desperately needed help. I can’t thank the charity enough because I have now been clean for three years.

"I came here for group therapy and had one-on-one support, they have opened my mind and set me free completely."

Debbie Douglas, 50, from Battersea was referred to IDAS by her GP because of her alcoholism.

She said: "I started coming here in November last year, and haven’t had a drink since new year’s day.

"They have given me so much support, and in the group sessions I have really connected with other service users.

"I am hoping to be able to work very soon. This place has helped me so much."

Alongside therapy sessions, IDAS also provide yoga and meditation classes as part of the recovery process.

They operate four different centres in the borough, with two in Battersea, one in Wandsworth and another in Roehampton.

Each site has open access times, where those seeking help can drop in and make arrangements.

The anniversary celebration was held at one of their centres in Battersea, where free cakes and coffee were provided.

Around 30 people attended, including the Mayor of Wandsworth Angela Graham.

She said: "I’m delighted to be here celebrating 50 years, this place is so important to the area.

"I want to thank all the people involved for their fantastic work."

Over the years the organisation has adapted to the changing landscape of substance abuse.

Nowadays IDAS is helping lots of people hooked on party drugs like amphetamines and legal highs, as opposed to heroin abuse.

Denell Dema, 32, the manager of IDAS Battersea, said: "I am really proud to be here, and am so glad that many of the people we have helped are here too.

"The fact we see less heroin users now shows that drug treatment does work.

"However there are always new obstacles and we will keep working hard to overcome them."


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