Successful alcohol support service to close

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19 Jun 2015
by Neil Skinner

A successful residential support service for homeless dependent drinkers from across Lincolnshire is to close.

The Corner House, at the junction of Friars Lane and St Rumbold Street, Lincoln, was opened in November 2014 by Framework and operated with Public Health funding from Lincolnshire County Council. It provided specialist accommodation and support to homeless dependent drinkers from across Lincolnshire.

Framework was informed by the council earlier this year that its initial pilot support contract would not be renewed, and has been seeking alternative funding to keep the service open. Despite several offers of support* it has not been possible to secure the funds needed and a decision has been taken to close the service.

Framework, which has been funding the service since its support contract expired on May 9, confirmed on Wednesday, June 17 that the Corner House is closed to new referrals. The service has now closed its waiting list and will make contact with referring agents for the 30 individuals on that list so that they can consider alternative options. Existing residents will be supported over the coming weeks to move out of the service and into alternative accommodation in a planned way.

Acting Chief Executive Michael Leng said: “It is with great regret and immense frustration that I announce the closure of the Corner House. This is a county-wide resource that is delivering very positive results for some of the most entrenched and chaotic street drinkers in the UK. By consequence it is also delivering substantial savings to the public purse**.

“The effectiveness of the Corner House and its impact on residents has never been in doubt. It works and it works well. Indeed, it is clear from the offers of support we have received that support for this service is very strong indeed among public and statutory services. It is a matter of huge personal frustration that this support is not matched by the funding required to carry on the work we have started.  

“I am hugely proud of the staff and what they have achieved in such a short space of time. By their commitment and professionalism they have proven that this approach works and provided a very clear example for others to follow. Above all the legacy of their work can be seen in the men and women who will leave the service in its final days – abstinent from alcohol and with a deep-rooted desire to get on with their lives and contribute positively to their communities.

“It is a matter of enormous regret that others will not be afforded the same opportunity. Our priority now is to make appropriate plans for the present service users to ensure they continue to make positive progress on their dependency problems and secure stable accommodation.”

The Corner House building, which is owned by Framework and consists of 15 self-contained flats, will continue to be used to accommodate homeless and vulnerable people. An announcement on its future will be made at a later date.

Notes

*Framework had put forward proposals to cut costs and continue operating the service with coalition funding from a range of local authorities and statutory services.  It has secured several funding commitments – most notably from City of Lincoln Council – but has found it impossible to meet the required running costs.

**Research commissioned by Framework suggests that the Corner House delivered significant savings to the public purse. Dr Ira Unell researched the activities of 17 residents in the three months prior to moving in, revealing a combined bill for some £81,830 for multiple arrests, ambulance call outs, and hospital visits. In reality these costs are likely to be far higher because they don’t take into account court costs, lower level police contact and follow up appointments

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