Today is World Hepatitis Day, with the theme of Elimination.

2016 is a crucial year for addressing hepatitis. At the World Health Assembly in May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Member States endorsed the first ever draft Elimination Strategy for Viral Hepatitis, with the ambitious goal to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can lead to scarring (cirrhosis) or cancer of the liver if left untreated.

The virus is a serious infectious disease, but with the right early diagnosis and treatment, hepatitis C can be curable.

Hepatitis C disproportionately affects the marginalised groups of people Blenheim works with, including intravenous drug users, prisoners and immigrant populations. Public Health England reported that in 2015 50% of injecting drug users have hepatitis C, up from 45% in 2005.

Therefore, for years, Blenheim has called on NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health to make the elimination of hepatitis C a clear priority. We advocate that substance misuse services, the NHS and local authorities must do more to test, treat and cure those with hepatitis C.

In 2014, Blenheim became a member of the Hepatitis C Coalition – along with a group of leading clinicians, patients, organisations and other interested parties, we are committed to the reduction of morbidity and mortality associated with hepatitis C, and its eventual elimination.

To achieve elimination of hepatitis C, we need:

  • greater awareness about the virus,
  • better prevention – including harm reduction such as injection safety,
  • increased testing and diagnosis, and

Greater Awareness, Better Prevention

Injecting drug use continues to be the most important risk factor for contracting the infection because the virus is able to directly enter the blood stream via a needle. Approximately 50% of intravenous drug users are thought to be infected with the virus. Other forms of drug use, like sharing bank notes or straws to snort powders, also pose a significant risk of transmission. More information about risk factors can be found on the Hepatitis C Trust website.

Increased Testing and Diagnosis

You can always go to your GP or GUM Clinic and ask to be tested for the virus. If you are accessing a drug or alcohol service then you should speak to your keyworker or a member of staff about having the test. Services can provide a blood-borne virus (BBV) test for you, but if this isn’t available then they will support you to arrange this with your GP, or another healthcare provider.

Hepatitis C is a ‘silent epidemic’ because it is often asymptomatic in the early stages and can be difficult to diagnose. This means that in most cases, the symptoms are absent, mild, or simply vague. It is important to get tested if you have ever shared injecting equipment, even if it was many years ago, because you may not experience any symptoms. Although there are no set symptoms, common complaints related to the disease can include:

  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms, including sweating or headaches
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Digestive problems, including nausea, loss of appetite or weight loss
  • General aches and pains, or specific discomfort in the area of the liver

These symptoms can usually be alleviated with therapy. However, the symptoms people suffer are not necessarily an indication of whether they have liver damage or not.

Better Treatment

Anti-viral therapies have advanced greatly in recent years and are now able to clear the virus, thus preventing the progression of liver disease. These NICE approved treatments cure the virus for around 70-80% of people. Treatment has been shown to reduce both inflammation of the liver and fibrosis. There is also evidence that cases of cirrhosis can sometimes be reversed through treatment.

Decisions about treatment options should be made with your doctor. You can also contact the Hepatitis C Trust’s helpline on 0845 223 4424 for more information.

Blenheim: Test, Treat, Cure

In order to address the low levels of hepatitis treatment amongst our service users, in 2014/15, we introduced a range of initiatives in partnership with PHE, Hepatitis C Trust and the London Working Party on Hepatitis C. We have trained over 100 hepatitis champions throughout the organisation to identify the levels of hepatitis amongst our service users and to support the people affected with accessing treatment.

And progress is being made. Last year, 94% of Blenheim’s new clients that inject drugs or have previously injected drugs, had a Hepatitis C test – an increase from 87% in 2014/2015.

Furthermore, we are currently supporting the I’m Worth… campaign, which has been created to support people living with hepatitis C. It aims to address the stigma that many people with hepatitis C face, encouraging and empowering people living with hepatitis C to access care and services. It emphasises that everyone living with hepatitis C is entitled to the best care.

To find out more about Hepatitis C, please take a look at the factsheet on our website.

Test, Treat, Cure.


Stigma: One of the greatest barriers to employment

If we are to help people into employment we need to remove the stigma around substance misuse treatment, make a real effort to tackle barriers, and provide empathetic education, training and employment (ETE) support to both employees and employers. Local Authorities and other public bodies must take a leading role in providing employment opportunities.

People enter substance misuse treatment with a wide range of health and social needs. These need to be addressed alongside building motivation and aspiration for sustainable change.

Stigma is one of the greatest barriers to employment for those who have completed treatment or who are in treatment for drug and alcohol use. The double whammy of belonging to a group of people that is stigmatised is that those affected begin to believe the messages that they encounter everyday. While two thirds of employers would not employ someone who had a history of heroin or crack use*, many of those with a history of substance misuse believe they would not be employed either. There is an urgent need to develop employment ‘in-reach’** and other initiatives to provide employers with the confidence to employ people with a history of drug and alcohol misuse.

The journey for many people towards good health, recovery and being ready for employment is often slow. New skills need to be learnt and old habits left behind. At the point of accessing treatment for drug and alcohol misuse, people often have a wide range of physical and mental health issues which are often compounded by a myriad of social problems. It may take an extended period of time for people learn or re-learn softer but essential skills such as communication alongside building self-confidence/esteem. This is alongside getting treatment for physical and mental health conditions including their drug and alcohol use.

Some people have either no housing or insecure housing. This alone is a barrier to employment since employers require an address. Conversely housing is difficult to secure without a job therefore a vicious circle operates which continually pushes people further away from mainstream society.

Many people using a Blenheim ETE service were left feeling ashamed and stigmatised when accessing Job Centre Plus. They also reported that “work programmes are too intense” and as a result those who are either “not in treatment and/or subject to easements” struggle to keep up with the rigors of the programme and are therefore at risk of losing benefits. This can result in a return to the old pattern of offending and re-offending. There was a general consensus amongst the groups that the Job Centre wasn’t very helpful and the atmosphere was often poor.

In contrast people using specialist ETE services, felt they were good, offering the opportunity to get onto courses, gave an incentive to change and helped people think about and prepare for employment as they resolved or came to terms with other issues.

We are looking for employers in London to provide volunteer, employment and training opportunities for our service users. If you or know anyone that can help please contact us.

Blenheim has ETE services in Redbridge, Lewisham, and Kensington and Chelsea.

*Getting Serious about Stigma: The problem with stigmatising drug users UKDPC 2010

**In-Reach means where employees starting work with a history of drug or alcohol use are provided with additional support in the work place, as are their employers, to overcome any anxiety they have about employing those with a history of drug and alcohol problems.

It’s time to stand and fight

Disinvestment in drug and alcohol treatment is putting lives at risk.

Blenheim has four strategic aims: number two is to actively and effectively campaign on behalf of people stigmatized by alcohol & drug use. So here goes…

Cuts in drugs and alcohol funding, along with the lack of political leadership, along with a lack of priority in England is having a major negative impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. The moving of drugs funding into Public Health England (PHE), where illicit drug use is not a strategic priority, has given a green light to local authorities to disinvest in substance misuse services.

There has never been a more urgent need to have clear English government leadership spelling out the responsibilities of local authorities along with the levers to ensure they deliver. What we have is localism, a post code lottery, a government washing their hands of responsibility like Pontius Pilate and senior political figures actively conspiring to undermine evidenced based practice. Indeed it is not clear whether under the current Government in England will even have drug and alcohol policies.

We are witnessing the end of the best drug and alcohol treatment system in the world and the time to act to defend it is now. Its decline is being marked by lost opportunities and an increasing death toll as we fail to respond to rapidly increasing numbers of drug related deaths, health needs, and fail to tackle issues such as hepatitis C, HIV and liver disease. We are also failing to resource “harm reduction”, a phrase banished from the Government lexicon like a dirty word.

Over the next 3 years, spending on drug and alcohol services is predicted by some officials to fall between 25% and 50%.

Prior to Drugscope falling victim to Government cuts it’s recently published State of the Sector Report revealed;

  • Evidence of deep and widespread disinvestment and planned disinvestment in drug and alcohol services. (Over 70 services indicating cuts in funding with an average net reduction of 16.5%)
  • A third of local authorities indicating decisions to reduce funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16
  • The massive scale of re-commissioning and tender renegotiation leading to the widespread disruption of services. (54% of services since Sept 13 with another 49% indicating re-commissioning between Sept 14 – Sept 15)
  • Cuts in frontline drug and alcohol staff across the country and increasing caseloads
  • Worsening access to mental health services
  • Worsening provision of outreach services
  • Worsening access to housing and resettlement provision
  • Worsening access to employment support
  • Lack of provision for older clients
  • Negative impact of prison staffing cuts on access to treatment
  • Little confidence in Police and Crime plans and Joint Strategic needs Assessments/Joint Health and Wellbeing strategies reflected local needs
  • Reduction’s in harm reduction services at a time of increases in drug related deaths
  • Commissioning processes that discriminate against excellent small and medium-sized organisations delivering excellent local services

There has been a change in the focus away from the needs of vulnerable heavily addicted people with often multiple economic, social and health problems onto the needs of the wider population. The not insignificant needs of this far larger population will mean fewer resources to support those heavily dependent on drugs and alcohol with multiple and complex needs.

The provision of services to people with significant and multiple needs is being disrupted by frequent re-commissioning and system redesign. It has a hugely detrimental impact on the ability of organisations to care for people accessing services. It has had a significant negative affect on staff morale and the ability of organisations to invest their resources into the provision of services which are increasingly diverted to funding tendering capacity. Sadly at Blenheim, and I suspect other providers, staff work through the night not to help those in need but to win the right to deliver services with significant reductions in funding, challenging targets and poorly thought out PbR requirements. The costs and transfer of liabilities to the voluntary sector are driving all but the largest providers out of existence.

There is an increasing failure to address housing, complex needs, mental health and employment. There is a shocking lack of access to the employment market for people with a history of drug and alcohol misuse particularly where this is associated with criminal convictions. Specialist services addressing employment for this group were decimated in the Government commissioning of the Works Programme. Changes to welfare benefits have impacted detrimentally on housing stability and the level of homelessness experienced by those who are drug and/or alcohol dependent is rapidly increasing. The decommissioning of many NHS providers is resulting in a decline in many areas in access to specialist mental health service provision.

People with drugs and alcohol problems suffer prejudice and discrimination particularly if they commit the crime of being poor. Sadly this right to discriminate is enshrined in UK equality legislation. Yet again we see policies being suggested which focus on drug and alcohol users as being the undeserving benefit claimant if they are not in treatment. A requirement on local authorities to provide employment paying the living wage would be more constructive. It’s often not that people with drugs and alcohol problems are reluctant to work but that employers are reluctant to provide employment. We need a system of regulation that supports those experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs rather than criminalizing and stigmatizing people for being ill and vulnerable.

People who inject drugs are the group most affected by hepatitis C in the UK: around 90% of the hepatitis C infections diagnosed in the UK will have been acquired through injecting drug use. Across the UK 13,758 hepatitis C infections were diagnosed during 2013.

Around 2 in 5 people who inject psychoactive drugs such as heroin, crack and amphetamines are now living with hepatitis C, but half of these infections remain undiagnosed. PHE state “Interventions to diagnose infections earlier, reduce transmission and treat those infected need to be continued and expanded, with the goal of reducing the prevalence of hepatitis C.”

Often, hepatitis C infection remains asymptomatic and is only diagnosed after liver damage has occurred. Left untreated hepatitis C infection can result in severe liver damage, liver cancer, liver failure and death.

This year we will leave 97% of people with hepatitis C untreated. Imagine the outrage if this was breast cancer or lung cancer, particularly if the death rate was climbing year on year as it is with hepatitis C.  Now imagine if you could completely cure everyone with breast cancer or lung cancer but decided to only treat 3% a year. Outrage! This is precisely what happens to those with hepatitis C.  There is a real risk now that even this appallingly low figure will become unachievable as a result of changes in funding.

Lets move on to Naloxone: the failure of Government to roll out Naloxone in England along with a lack of emphasis on harm reduction and disinvestment in drugs services are likely factors in a 32% increase in heroin/morphine related deaths.

The ONS figures (2013) for drug related deaths show that there were 765 deaths involving heroin/morphine; a sharp rise of 32% from 579 deaths in 2012. Many of these fatalities could possibly have been prevented by the use of Naloxone as an intervention.

Naloxone is a medicine that is a safe, effective and with no dependence-forming potential. Its only action is to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Naloxone provision reduces rates of drug-related death particularly when combined with training in all aspects of overdose response.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) undertook a review of Naloxone availability in the UK in May 2012, its report to the Government strongly recommended that Naloxone should be made more widely available, to prevent future drug-related deaths.

Scotland and Wales have national programmes to make Naloxone widely available but there has been no similar programme in England. This has led to a failure across England to supply Naloxone in over of 50% of local authorities.

Overdose remains a leading cause of death among people who use drugs, particularly those who inject. Increasing the availability and accessibility of Naloxone would reduce these deaths overnight. Perhaps we should conclude that English opiate users lives are worth less than the Welsh and Scottish ones.

There is a growing palpable sense “old school activism” in the sector. There’s no time, no money, no staff, no resource but up and down the country people, organisations and service user groups are rising to the challenge. There is a palpable sense of determination; the power of networking is gearing up, sharing ideas, inspiration and the need to stand strong in the face of cutbacks.

Unless Service User Groups and a powerful alliance of GP’s, NHS and third sector providers and charities are prepared to fight in the corridors of Whitehall and Westminster, and on the beaches of local authority cuts, I fear that the worlds best treatment system is about to be decimated in 2015/16. I fear for the people we help and I pray that I am wrong. It’s time to stand and fight.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

As the clock ticks towards the end of 2014 and our 50th year I look back on what has been an amazing year for Blenheim. A new sense of direction, new state of the art central training and management facility, huge investment in upgrading buildings and infrastructure across the organisation and a shift to put the charitable purpose and our beneficiaries even more at the heart of what we do. It has also been the year when we have focused on investing in our capacity to be a business focused highly competitive organisation with the capacity to take on multi-national organisations and win.  Not withstanding this we are determined to work in partnership and support the increasingly threatened smaller providers in our sector.

In a changing landscape for charities Blenheim chooses to say focused on the needs of those with drug and alcohol problems, we choose to focus on the skills of our staff and delivering high quality services, and most of all we choose to stand up for and campaign on behalf of our beneficiaries who are mothers, brothers, sisters and grandparents, work colleagues and friends not just people to be defined and stigmatized by their drug and alcohol use.

Blenheim’s has a proud history based on the work and dedication of its staff and volunteers both past and present. Blenheim has made such a difference to so many lives down the generations. A book “London Calling” documents this history via the memories of current and former service users, staff, volunteers, trustees, and leaders in the drug and alcohol sector.

Throughout 2014 we have actively challenged the stigmatisation of people with drug and alcohol problems by enabling them to tell their moving and humbling stories of recovery, and argue in the corridors of power for a system of regulation that supports those experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs rather than criminalises people for being ill and vulnerable.  In 2015 we will publish a book of 50 recovery stories which shows the impact not just of Blenheim but of the drugs and alcohol sector in the voices of our beneficiaries.

I am appalled at the shameful fact that 97% people with hepatitis C go untreated and that despite a 32% rise in heroin and opiate deaths Naloxone availability (which may have averted some of these) in the England is highly variable with little sense of Government urgency.  Blenheim challenges this clear inequality of care for the people we work with, it is wrong and we will take action. Currently I am chairing the Naloxone Action Group England and Blenheim is a member of both the Hepatitis C Coalition and the London Working Party on Hepatitis C.

As we move forward into 2015 I am determined that Blenheim remains focused on the individual and their holistic needs. The need for friendship, love, employment, somewhere to live, something to eat, support with often deeply troubled lives, and help with a range of physical and mental health problems.

However unless Drugscope along with a powerful alliance of providers are prepared to fight in the corridors of Whitehall and Westminster, and on the beaches of Local Authority cuts I fear that the worlds best treatment system is about to be decimated in April 2015. I fear for the people we help. I fear that commercial self interest will mean as a sector we will walk quietly off the cliff. I am determined that Blenheim will go shouting whilst learning to rock climb or even better fly.

As we enter the next 50 years I am determined Blenheim will continue to dedicate itself to improving the quality of life of people the organisation supports. Everyone deserves a better future.

Hepatitis C infection is a major health issue nationally and should be a PHE priority

People who inject drugs are the group most affected by hepatitis C in the UK: around 90% of the hepatitis C infections diagnosed in the UK will have been acquired through injecting drug use. Across the UK 13,758 hepatitis C infections were diagnosed during 2013.

Around half of the people living with hepatitis C infections don’t know it, according to a new publication from Public Health England (PHE) ‘Shooting up: infections among people who inject drugs in the UK 2013’ published on the 5th November 2014.

In total, 13,758 hepatitis C infections were diagnosed in 2013 in the UK, with around 90% acquired through injecting drug use. Around 2 in 5 people who inject psychoactive drugs such as heroin, crack and amphetamines are now living with hepatitis C, but half of these infections remain undiagnosed. This is why Blenheim in partnership with a wide range of organisations under the banner of the Hepatitis C Coalition is doing everything we can at a national, local and operational level to ensure more people at risk now or in the past get tested. I agree 100% with PHE when they state “Interventions to diagnose infections earlier, reduce transmission and treat those infected need to be continued and expanded, with the goal of reducing the prevalence of hepatitis C.” Current service provision needs rapid expansion.

If caught early hepatitis C can be successfully treated with antiviral medications. Often, hepatitis C infection remains asymptomatic and is only diagnosed after liver damage has occurred. Left untreated hepatitis C infection can result in severe liver damage, liver cancer, liver failure, and even death. This is why Blenheim is appalled that only a shameful 3 out of every 100 people with hepatitis C are treated each year. Treatment can completely cure most people at a fraction of the life time cost of treating HIV.

In 2013 there were 7,290 cases of tuberculosis reported in England, which is a rate of 13.5 cases per 100,000 population and TB is now one of PHE’s 7 priorities. My unscientific back of a fag packet approach suggests a rate for 21 cases per 100,000 population being diagnosed annually with hepatitis C. (Yes I adjusted for hepatitis C being UK and TB being England in relevant PHE figures).

If this is the case PHE need to prioritise hepatitis C treatment and the treatment of injecting drug users. Indeed their own experts agree.

Dr Vivian Hope, a PHE expert in infections among people who inject drugs, said: “with around half of those people living with hepatitis C still unaware of their infection, we need to do more to increase diagnosis rates. Ultimately, this will help reduce the current high level of infection we’re still seeing among people who inject drugs”.

Dr Fortune Ncube, Consultant Epidemiologist and lead for PHE on Injecting Drug Use said: to reduce transmission and decrease rates of hepatitis C infection it is imperative that we maintain adequate provision of effective interventions such as needle and syringe programmes, opiate substitution and other drug treatment.

With many services for drug and alcohol dependent people being cut back significantly across the country we are in danger of a continuing increase in the numbers infected with hepatitis C and even more people not getting the treatment they so urgently need.

Hep C, harm reduction, the changing face of drug and alcohol use and services in an age of austerity for the public sector

I was asked to be on a panel this week at the DAAT conference in Brighton and to pick some themes to talk about for 5 minutes.

The realisation that we have let down a generation of drug users by failing to test, treat and cure, Hep C was my starting point.

The rising tide of deaths from hepatitis C, a preventable and curable virus, is a scandal. It is absolutely unacceptable that half of those living with hepatitis C are still undiagnosed and a mere 3% of those infected are treated each year. There is a clear link between hepatitis C and deprivation. Hepatitis C has been overlooked, ignored, under-prioritised and underfunded resulting in spiralling hospital admissions and deaths. This is because the majority of people living with, and dying from, the virus are from the most marginalised, vulnerable, deprived groups of society.

If the health service is to reduce health inequalities and “improve the health of the poorest, fastest”, hepatitis C must be addressed.

Many hepatitis C patients are still never assessed for liver damage or offered potentially life-saving treatment despite the fact that treatment has improved and new drugs with almost 100% cure rates and very few side effects are expected to be approved shortly. We need to ensure we test, treat, cure and eradicate hep C and drug and alcohol agencies need to do their part in finding, testing and supporting people into treatment.

I travelled home to radio 4 talking about how a new report indicated a huge jump in liver cancer and death from liver disease as a result of alcohol consumption and Hep C.

My next theme was the changing patterns of drug use bringing with it different needs. The changing pattern of drug and alcohol use continue to offer challenges to traditional service models which for many no longer meet their needs at a time when service cuts is limiting the range of services on offer.

Services will need to quickly adapt our methods of working and re-engage with a harm reduction/minimisation approach if we are to respond adequately to the risky drug and sexual behaviour in some communities. In the age of legal highs we need to teach people how to minimise the risks, in the age of older drug and alcohol users we need to develop care facilities to cope with those who continue to use illicit drugs.  We need to respond to the drug and alcohol use of all where this is problematic not just the marginalised in society.

I am concerned at the failure of commissioning structures and policy to recognise that some of the best work of drug and alcohol services is in supporting those who have yet to become drug or alcohol free to stay alive and survive and find shelter and food from day to day, along with minimising the potential risks they face.

Current developing drug use patterns in many ways remind me of the 60’s and 70’s and e-cigarettes could be the most significant change in administration routes in a generation both for good and bad.

Given that I have been raising the issue for nearly three years now my third theme was how substance misuse organisations are coping in the evolving funding and commissioning landscape.

In less than a minute to cover the ground I decided on a poetic delivery style, more for less, increased involvement of volunteers and mutual aid, adapt or die, diversify and innovate, mergers and partnerships, and for some bankruptcy.  We are seeing the extinction of the small agency and the serious threat to larger organisations as a result of tender destabilisation.

Sadly services are also operating in a much reduced voluntary sector with far fewer local organisations on the ground to share the load as a result of the bleak funding ice age for the sector which is giving every indication of getting worse.

What I was going to say about Blenheim, but had to cut when 5 minutes became 3, was the following:

“At Blenheim we have completely re-organised our approach to manage in the new commissioning world with a clear vision of who we are this involved some clear choices:

  • We chose to be a charity,
  • We chose to say focussed on the needs of those with drug and alcohol problems
  • We chose to focus on skills of our staff and delivering high quality services.
  • We chose to stand up for and campaign on behalf of our beneficiaries who are mothers , brothers, sisters and grandparents, work colleagues and friends not just people to be defined and stigmatised by their drug and alcohol use.

Small and medium size organisations can survive but they have to fight and be clear about why they deserve to make a difference for the people they serve.

We have the best alcohol and drug treatment system in the world much of what is good has come from the diversity of the small.  Fight for it, and fight for the diversity of the small.”

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

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.