How a unique partnership between UK
Steel Enterprise and a local treatment
service is helping to provide much-
needed support on Teeside
FUNDING of £2,220 from UK Steel Enterprise’s (UKSE)
community support fund is helping to launch an
innovative community project in Middlesbrough. TRAC
UK, which helps people on Teesside recover from
substance and mental health issues, is using the
money to start a six-month pilot project to support up
to 12 people in two properties, with two full-time staff.
There will be additional support from a volunteer
social psychologist and TRAC volunteer advocates to
provide tailored recovery plans, with the aim of
expanding the scheme to include more staff and
TRAC UK was founded in 2015 by director Annalice
Sibley and provides outreach, help with housing and
health issues, and a women-only online recovery service.
‘We have a great team of workers and volunteers
here, and we were thrilled to hear that UK Steel
Enterprise had agreed to help us with this new
project,’ she says.
‘There is a big gap for this type of model as it can
be easy for people to fall back into old habits if they
need to go out of their area to a rehabilitation facility.
Clients have told us that being in their local
community during recovery would really benefit them.
Many are experiencing extreme isolation from
mainstream society and need help to access services
and work towards recovery and an independent
While UKSE is usually about supporting businesses
with finance and premises, says business development
manager Peter Taylor, its special community support
fund exists to support projects ‘run by a range of
organisations that help to improve the quality of daily
life for people living in our steel areas’.
Working in the community also means that TRAC
can engage intensively with clients to identify their
needs, stresses project administrator Brian
Hutchinson. ‘Support can range from assistance to get
to appointments to group support and one-to-one
sessions that help them get to the bottom of their
problems, gain a better understanding of their illness
and take steps towards recovery.’
More information on UKSE support for community
projects at www.uksteelenterprise.co.uk
A sAfe gAtewAy
Police are piloting a heath-based approach to drug possession, heard MPs at a recent APPG
‘ARRESTING SOMEONE FOR POSSESSION of drugs is
usually a deterrent, but the real cost is the rate of drug-
related deaths,’ chief inspector Jason Kew from Thames
Valley Police told the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross-
Party Parliamentary Group. These thoughts had led to
his force piloting a diversion scheme in West Berkshire
as a gateway to reducing harm.
As Dr Wojciech Spyt explained, the scheme aimed
to reduce drug-related deaths and drug use, tackle
drug-related offending and cut costs to the criminal
justice system and other agencies.
The option of treatment would be presented
before arrest and did not involve the courts, unlike
previous diversion schemes – as long as the person
had a quantity small enough for personal use and
passed an ID check. Adults were referred to a service
provider in their area and young people to the youth
offending team (YOT).
In their area, adults were referred to Swanswell,
where an initial assessment provided a tailored
approach. This could involve drug education for first-
time offenders, or a number of treatment pathways
for those with more entrenched issues around drugs
and mental health.
The resulting headlines in the media, about ‘going
soft’ on drug users, did not reflect the benefits of the
scheme, said DCI Lee Barnham. Police officers liked
the scheme as it gave them a quick and
straightforward route for dealing with people caught
in possession of drugs, giving them the time to
‘We are locking up
people that don’t need
locking up – they need
help and treatment.’
concentrate on pursuing suppliers.
The scheme would run until March, when it would
be evaluated and options considered for a further
roll-out. One of the main challenges would be finding
the funding required for the treatment agency to deal
with more referrals.
‘We acknowledge that the majority of drug use is
not problematic,’ said Kew. ‘The idea is to get people
familiar with the drug service to reduce drug-related
deaths. The aim is for it to be a safe gateway and
The need to change the approach to drug policing
was supported by Suzanne Sharkey of the Law
Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) – a group of
criminal justice professionals campaigning for an
evidence-based drug strategy led by harm reduction.
A former police officer in the 1990s, working with
undercover drugs teams, Sharkey had personal
reasons for being passionate about changing policing
methods. She had experienced addiction to drugs and
alcohol and become homeless and estranged from
her children for a period. She felt that the stigma of
the situation made it harder for her – and many other
women – to engage with treatment and rehab
because of fear of social services.
Coming from the North East, she believed much of
the social deprivation she had seen was at the route
of many issues with drugs and alcohol, and echoed
the call for a health-based approach. ‘We are locking
up people that don’t need locking up – they need
help and treatment,’ she said.
February 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 11