Drugs, drink, gambling - more need help

A charity which helps people with drug, alcohol and gambling problems has told how it has seen massive rises in the number of people coming for help.The newly re-launched website of Norcas

A charity which helps people with drug, alcohol and gambling problems has told how it has seen massive rises in the number of people needing help.

Norcas, East Anglia's leading independent provider of services for those who misuse drugs, alcohol and gambling, has seen referrals for some services increase by more than 50pc.

Compared to 2008, Norcas has seen its referrals in Norfolk rise by 30pc for drug abuse and 34pc for alcohol misuse.

The picture is even more pronounced in Suffolk, where drug referrals are up by 50pc and alcohol referrals by a staggering 63pc.

Today the charity is relaunching with a fresh new look and website, in a bid to raise the profile of the help it offers and ensure it is well-placed to survive the coming years.

Norcas offers a range of services from one-to-one counselling, to support for families, complementary therapies and official criminal justice drug and alcohol prog-rammes.

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Chief executive Maggie Williams said: "We have seen an increase in self-referrals, which is good, and a big spark in criminal justice referrals too, which is fine if it's well resourced.

"In both Norfolk and Suffolk we have seen an increase in referrals for alcohol and drugs. It's too early to say this is because of the recession but you would expect people to turn more to these things that help them when times are hard, and alcohol and drugs are so cheap to get hold of.

"There is a squeeze on public funds coming and yet we could see greater demand than ever for our services."

Dean Croft, 34, is now embarking on a promising career as a chef after being supported by Norcas.

A crack user for 12 years, most of his problems stemmed from homelessness and a chaotic lifestyle. Since last December, when he moved from Stevenage to Norwich to be nearer his daughter, he has been supported by Norcas and Norwich City Council's Learning, Employment, Accommodation Project (Leap).

The City College Norwich student, who now channels his time and energy into his love of food, said: "I just want to say thank you to the people that have helped me and been supportive.

"For people that want to really change their life and sort it out - it can be done."

The charity, which started in Norwich more than 30 years ago, does not ever turn people away, but it does have a waiting list for some services, which is why it is relaunching and hoping to forge ahead with expanding its work.

Mrs Williams said: "We would like to have more staff to do more work with people.

"There are also other innovative projects we would really like to do. We recently got an award from the Big Lottery to work with people over 50 in Norfolk. That's fantastic and is for three or four years, but we'd also like to do this in Suffolk as well."

For more about the charity's relaunch, and the people it has helped, see tomorrow's EDP.

The newly re-launched website of Norcas

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