Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 - Page 6

KEEP ON MOVING: ThE 12Th DDN cONfErENcE Session 1 MOVING FORWARD The day’s first session focused the current state of play in the treatment sector, the vital role of user involvement, and where things needed to go from here. Photography by Nigel Brunsdon ‘I feel as though I’m among friends,’ Turning Point chief executive Lord Victor Adebowale told delegates at Keep on Moving’s opening session, ‘Food for thought’. ‘The theme of this conference is Keep on Moving, but before we talk about the future I think it’s worth reflecting on the past – where we’ve come from.’ When he’d become chief executive in 2001 Tony Blair was still prime minister and drug and alcohol treatment were ‘quite separate’, he told delegates, with ‘huge debates’ about what service structures should look like. The New Labour government had a focus on evidence-based research, he said, with 200 targets for every government department. Although the first ten-year drug strategy talked about diversion into treatment from criminal justice, the focus was still on ‘crime reduction rather than harm reduction’, he stressed. ‘The emphasis was on getting problem drug users into treatment, and enhancing the quality of that treatment by setting targets.’ The numbers in treatment – and spending on treatment – increased dramatically. Since then, however, public health had moved to local government from the NHS, with seven out of ten councils cutting their spending on drug and alcohol treatment. Among the councils that had reduced their spending, 83 per cent had seen an increase in drug-related deaths, he pointed out. Today around 58 per cent of treatment was provided by third sector 6 | drinkanddrugsnews | March 2019 ‘The conditions and challenges that push people to the edge, such as money worries, lack of job security, stress, poor housing and family breakdown, are getting worse, and tackling those issues needs professionals with experience.’ organisations compared to just 42 per cent by the NHS, and Turning Point had grown by adapting and working with communities, he said. ‘The majority of services are now provided by the not- for-profit sector, which brings me to service user involvement. As far as I’m concerned, I’m talking to fellow professionals. The people that you work with trust you – as you have trusted people – with their lives. It’s not just about being an ex-user or someone in recovery.’ Austerity had not gone away and Brexit was ‘not going to help’, he said. The conditions and challenges that pushed people ‘to the edge’, such as money worries, lack of job security, stress, poor housing and family breakdown, were getting worse, and tackling those issues needed professionals with experience. ‘We can’t cut our way into the future,’ he stated. ‘We have to work with others. To tackle these issues in the context of reducing resources we need professionalism and partnerships with our communities. Lord VicTor AdebowALe ‘I want to thank you because, fundamentally, every single person sitting in this room makes people like me look good,’ he continued. ‘You’re the people with frontline understanding. In the next five years the challenges we face now are going to become more acute, and we’re going to have to work differently, not just harder, in a way that’s “and/and” rather than “either/or”.’ As drug and alcohol treatment had been separate in 2001, now substance misuse was separate from the rest of the NHS, he said. ‘I see people who have www.drinkanddrugsnews.com