Portsmouth service that helps addicts stay clean is saved from closure
A 'VALUABLE' city service dedicated to helping former drug and alcohol addicts integrate back into the community has been saved from closure by council cash.
Portsmouth City Council agreed to pledge £58,000 to allow the Re-Fit project to run for another two years - providing sports and leisure activities, as well as qualification opportunities for recovering addicts.
It comes after £109,000 of lottery funding, used for the programme since 2016, ended.
Speaking at a health and wellbeing board meeting Alan Knobel, development manager of public health at the council, said: 'This money will save a project from closing. Without this money effectively the project will fold.'
He added: 'This is more than just providing badminton on a Tuesday. It also encourages people to become volunteers in the programme.
'They can also take an NVQ to then gain work experience, and then go on to get jobs.
'For lots of people addicted their sole purpose is to acquire a drug that day. When you take that away they don't know what to do with themselves. It helps people to stay clean and sober and interact with like-minded people and integrate with the community.'
The money will pay the salary of a Re-Fit worker, allowing for activities such as badminton, football, table tennis, chess, and boxing, as well as providing education and the chance for qualifications, held in community centres in the city.
However, external activities such as kayaking trips that were previously part of the project, which is run in partnership with the Society of St James and Pompey in the Community, will no longer be offered due to the reduction in funds.
For the council's health boss, Councillor Matthew Winnington, it was a 'valuable' investment. He said: 'I do know how valuable it is. It is an absolute godsend for people who spend their waking hours waiting to get a hit of alcohol or drugs - or even gambling as well - to fill their hours with something else.
'I am pleased to provide this and it's a shame the lottery funding has run out but I do hope bids will be made for lottery funding in the future.'
The council funding will start from November 1.