Blenheim Recovery Stories

14 Apr

#15 of 50 Recovery Stories


Blenheim Recovery Story

7 Apr

#14 of 50 recovery stories

Kev's story

Public health ring fenced funding not safe in PHE and Local Authority hands

2 Apr

Blenheim is extremely concerned that Local Authorities are diverting ring fenced funds for public health which includes money for drug and alcohol services to fund other services. Blenheim adds its voice to that of the Faculty of Public Health which has called on Ministers and the National Audit Office to more closely scrutinise how the system is working.

Local authorities across England are diverting ring fenced funds for public health to wider council services to plug gaps caused by government budget cuts a BMJ investigation has found. The BMJ also found that public health staffing in some parts of the country is being scaled back to save money. Professional organisations have warned that public health’s voice may be drowned out in local government and that its workforce is spread too thinly.

The investigation found examples of councils reducing funding for a wide range of public health services, including those for substance misuse, sexual health, smoking cessation, obesity, and school nursing. The BMJ found that many local authorities have deployed public health funds to support wider council services that are vulnerable to cuts, such as trading standards, citizens’ advice bureaux, domestic abuse services, housing, parks and green spaces, and sport and leisure centres.

Only 45% of respondents to a recent BMA survey of public health professionals working in local authorities and at Public Health England believed that the public health grant was being used appropriately in their area, while almost half (49.6%) believed that the grant was seen “as a resource to be raided” by local government.

The BMA’s survey also highlighted fear about future staffing levels in public health, with just 12% of respondents believing that there would be enough substantive consultant posts available to serve the needs of the population in 10 years’ time.

The Association of Directors of Public Health told the BMJ that it was particularly concerned about a vacuum in public health leadership at the top of local government, with a quarter of director posts currently unfilled or filled by temporary appointments.

I am even more concerned about Public Health England’s (PHE) apparent failure to adequately ensure that the public health money is spent in line with the ring fence.

The national authority, Public Health England, has said that it supported local authorities making tough decisions and that it was right for public health grants—totalling £2.8bn across England for 2014-15 – to be used to leverage wider public health benefits across the far larger spend of local government.

Duncan Selbie the head of PHE said “The duty is to improve the public’s health, not to provide a public health service.”

At Blenheim our translation is it is about improving the health of the overall population not treating people who are ill. This is particularly unfortunate for those whose treatment is the responsibility of local authorities and PHE. PHE seems to be giving the green light to local authorities to loot and plunder the ring fenced public health grant at will.

This will then come as little comfort to those who now rely on the specialist health services to support them overcome problems with drugs and alcohol and brings into question whether these services and a relevant proportion of the funding should be transferred back to NHS England which is about providing a public health service.

As part of its investigation the BMJ issued requests under freedom of information legislation to all 152 upper tier local authorities in England (most of which are unitary, county or city councils), asking for details of all services commissioned and decommissioned since April 2013 and for details of commissioning intentions for the coming year.

Of the 143 authorities that provided information, almost a third (45) have decommissioned at least one service since April 2013, while others have cut funding to certain services, the BMJ found. Many councils are decommissioning individual contracts for services such as sexual health and substance misuse and then re-commissioning new integrated services to make efficiency savings. Other authorities have decommissioned services that they said were not having the desired outcome on public health or delivering value for money.

In total, more than half of authorities (78) have commissioned or re-commissioned at least one service since April 2013, and the pace of change is set to escalate this year as councils carry out root and branch reviews of services after the year of consolidation.

Blenheim Recovery Story

31 Mar

#13 of 50 recovery stories

Angie's story

Blenheim Recovery Story

24 Mar

#12 of 50 recovery stories 

Megan's story

Blenheim Recovery Story

17 Mar

#11 of 50 recovery stories 


Blenheim Recovery Story

10 Mar

#10 of 50 recovery stories #blenheim50

Patrick's story

Blenheim Recovery Story

3 Mar

#9 of 50 recovery stories #blenheim50

Blenheim is a charity, a campaigning organisation not just a service provider

28 Feb

With a heavy heart I read Colin Rochester’s article in the Third Sector “How the sector was invented”.  As the editorial in the Third Sector on the 18th February argues “a sense of austerity has left charities feeling they have been led up the garden path by successive governments. This has been compounded by disillusionment about the availability and conditions of public sector contracts.”  Charities increasingly fall into statutory voluntary sector which is significantly funded by government or delivers public services or both, and the voluntary sector which survives mainly on donation and follows an independent agenda.

For 50 years Blenheim, has been a pro-active social change organisation rooted in the day-to-day challenges facing those with alcohol and/or drugs problems, their families and local communities.

We have had in recent years professionalised and bureaucratised to compete in the new world of competitive tendering whilst seeking to retain our roots as we have expanded.  In 2013 when reviewing our strategy I realised that we had gone too far down the route of provider organisation.

Whilst we continue to focus on providing services that strive to be innovative, excellent and cost-effective, Blenheim is determined to have a voice and to keep our charitable endeavour and campaigning voice at the heart of what we do.  We believe that this sadly sets us apart from many of the other voluntary sector organisations working in the drug and alcohol sector.

Care, compassion and tolerance for those in need sums up the ethos of Blenheim.  At its heart is a raging passion to provide non-judgemental assistance to those who find themselves in difficulty with drugs and alcohol.  The organisation has a committed and passionate approach to finding ways of helping those in often desperate and heart breaking need.

Fundamental to Blenheim is the belief that everyone can change they just need to be given the opportunity and resources.

Blenheim has pioneered work with drug users and alcohol users and much of what now is mainstream and sometimes still controversial both across the UK and internationally comes directly from the innovative and ground breaking work of the dedicated people who have worked for Blenheim over the years.

Today we work over 9000 people a year making a positive impact that not only improves health of the individual but has a lasting positive impact on the wellbeing of their family and friends, and the communities in which they live.

People who use our services are not just people with drug and alcohol problems, they are partners, fathers, sisters, grandmothers, children, brothers, friends, work colleagues and carers.  We help people come to terms with often deeply troubled lives to grow and leave the constraints of dependency behind to journey into a brighter future.

Every journey starts with the first step and our role is to help people map their personal journey to a dependency free life. It’s not enough to treat dependency in isolation, people often need to address a wide range of issues in their lives, from relationships to employment, from housing to nutrition.

As we enter our 50th year of social action we are determined to be a loud advocate of the needs of those with the most complex needs in society. Campaigning and influencing key decision makers is a key part of Blenheim’s work.

In 2014 we will focus on the appalling failure to provide Hepatitis C treatment in line with NICE guidelines and issues of equality and stigma experienced by people with drug and alcohol problems.

For 50 years we have been the light in the darkness for so many people young and old, rich and poor.  In the coming years we intend to continue our work with dedication and an undying commitment to the people we help to rebuild their lives.

  • We choose to be a charity, a campaigning organisation not just a service provider
  • We choose to strive to be better than we were yesterday
  • We choose to be Blenheim and we stand proud
  • We choose to develop into an organisation deeply rooted in the communities in which it works

Challenges remain in developing a structure which puts the communities in which we work at the heart of the organisations charitable endeavours and ensures we listen to the voices of people who come to us for support.

Blenheim will continue to tender and be a great service provider, but more importantly we will be a charity and a fierce advocate for people with drug and alcohol problems now and in the years to come.

Blenheim have published a book; London Calling: Voices from 50 years of Social Action.

Blenheim Recovery Stories

24 Feb

#8 of 50 recovery stories #blenheim50

Josh's story


A fine site

life writ large

Germaine de Larch | Writer, Artist using photography as a medium, Art-Activist. This site is for my words. For my images, visit or

Blenheim's Recovery Stories

In 2014 Blenheim is celebrating 50 years of social action and every week we will be sharing a story of recovery from our service users


To end dependency by enabling people to change

To end dependency by enabling people to change

To end dependency by enabling people to change

DrugScope Comment

To end dependency by enabling people to change

GOV.UK departments and policy - all updates

To end dependency by enabling people to change

To end dependency by enabling people to change


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers