ADS began in a tiny office in Manchester with two members of staff and five volunteers, and today we are the leading provider of alcohol and drug treatment services in the North West and beyond. Last year alone we ADS received over 15,000 new referrals for help and support and had over 100,000 contacts with service users.
Timeline: ADS 37 Year History
The Alcohol Information Centre was founded by 2 volunteers with a vision to provide a reliable rapid access service to reach out to more people with alcohol problems and their families, through information and advice or by referrals to other agencies. Self referral was approved by the Medical Committee so that those who could not discuss their problem with a family doctor had a haven.
The service operated from it’s 4th floor premises in Princess Street Manchester and in the first year saw 177 clients.
The centre had become the catalyst for the formation of the Facilities Group, between all alcohol agencies, which was set up to spot gaps in the system and provide the necessary services. The need to develop localised services was recognised.
Research by Sheenagh Delahaye (An analysis of Clients Using Alcohol Agencies Within One Community Service) confirmed the raison d’etre of the centre’s existence. Many clients were younger than had previously been seen accessing services and significantly, one third of clients were relatives of drinkers. Still lacking in funds but determined to expand, volunteers from the Executive Committee operated sessional clinics in Rochdale.
The momentum was gathering. By this time the centre had two counsellors, a fully funded research worker post, a teacher and a clerical assistant. Manchester was the national launch pad for a pilot scheme in the training of volunteer counsellors. By July of this year, Elizabeth Smith, the original secretary had been appointed Director of the service.
The service moved premises to no. 87 Oldham Street, which it shared with The Samaritans. A unique walk in street level service was launched. At the same time the service played a key role in the development of a pilot project to divert habitual drunken offenders form the criminal justice system to the new Detoxification Centre at Withington Hospital.
Annual casework had risen to 831, which included cases from Bolton and out in the community at Rochdale. Bennett House rehabilitation centre was established to provide a dry house for people following their detoxification. Initially funds only allowed us to open one half of the residence and offer 10 bed spaces. Gained funding to develop services in Lancashire.
Sir Robert Kilroy-Silk, then an MP, assisted and supported a volunteer recruitment programme in Preston. These volunteer counsellors backed up specialist alcohol workers in Wigan and Social Workers in Tameside.
The region had one of the highest levels of alcohol related problems in the country. The service faced a battle with those who held the purse strings to recognise the need for a basic minimum level of service in each district.
13 years on from two staff working in a 4th floor office building, the organisation had 16 staff, 10 volunteers, 5 district information centres, a specialist residential facility, with an additional 6 self contained flats, a central training and library service and development of services throughout Lancashire.
The organisations President (and founder member), Margaret Spriggs, received an OBE to add to her MBE for her services to voluntary work. Elizabeth Smith, Director, won a Churchill Memorial Fellowship to study alcohol services in the USA for 1 month; she returned convinced of the need to make family and workplace services a priority.
The organisation, now named, GMLCA (Greater Manchester and Lancashire Regional Council on Alcohol) won a slice of the £6m Alcohol Concern funding. This saw the opening of information services in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, Tameside and Glossop and a Trainer/Co-ordinator was recruited to run a new Volunteer Alcohol Counsellors Training Scheme (VACTS).
This year brought the most radical changes since the organisation began with the implementation of 3 major pieces of legislation: Community Care, the Criminal Justice Act and the Children Act. It was suddenly possible for us to have greater influence as our expertise was recognised and the role of the voluntary sector took a more central position.
A study commissioned by the Regional Health Authority, ‘Users Perceptions of Alcohol Services’ found that the major strengths of GMLCA were the ‘quality and thoroughness’ and ‘flexibility and accessibility’ of the services offered, the ‘trust and confidentiality’ maintained and the ‘friendliness and understanding’ of our staff.
Director, Elizabeth Smith, was honoured with an MBE for her services to voluntary work and typically credited the award to past and present staff and volunteers of the organisation.
The milestone of 21 years of service was celebrated. GMLCA now had 48 staff and 26 volunteers, providing services in Bolton, Blackpool, Burnley, Chorley, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Tameside and Trafford. In addition, it operated a regional Head Office, a Lancashire Services Development Officer, a Volunteer Accredited Counsellor Training Scheme (VACTS), AND Offenders Project in partnership with Greater Manchester Probation Service, Families and Young Children Project and a Registered Care Home.
Funding received to tackle substance misuse issues in black and minority ethnic communities. Additional services opened in Leeds, expanding our geographical footprint into Yorkshire. Bridge House residential rehabilitation service for men and women opened, followed by Joachim House, where parents in residential rehab can spend time with their children. New Contract with Probation Services led to change to Alcohol and Drug Services.
National Drugs Strategy provided huge amounts of money for drug treatment, enabling new contracts for Drug Day Care and Criminal Justice Services.
The organisation’s 30th Anniversary. In 2003 ADS (Alcohol and Drug Services as it was called at this time) employed 136 staff and 100 volunteers to deliver 85 contracts with an annual budget of £3.49m. During this year we helped over 7,850 clients and received over 38,250 telephone contacts for information and advice.
This year saw the successful implementation of our latest innovation of programmes. The first was ‘Kids First!’, which provides after school supper clubs for children affected by substance misusing parents. The second was Bridging the Gap, an innovative training programme, developed by us, which helps people affected by substance misuse (either ex-service users or concerned others) prepare to get back into employment; this went on to win Community Care and National Training Awards.
Partnership working becomes a key theme as the government choose it as a means through which most of its policy programme is delivered at local level. Forseeing this, ADS had developed its partnerships and worked increasingly closely with other voluntary sector providers and incorporated the strapline ‘Together we can achieve more’.
This year saw the momentous retirement of Chief Executive Elizabeth Smith, who has been with the organisation since the outset. She passed on her legacy that is ADS to new Chief Executive Lady Rhona Bradley. Rhona came to ADS with over 25 years experience in criminal justice with the National Probation Service in Greater Manchester and Cheshire and had led the establishment of multi-agency youth offending services in Halton and Warrington Borough Councils.
She had also worked for the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) as a service inspector, conducting statutory inspections of Youth Offending Teams and local authority children’s services.
Another key person to retire this year was the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Donal Morrissey, who had served as Chair for 10 years. His successor became Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski, who had been ADS’s Treasurer; appointed to this role was Trustee Anthony Williams.
‘Positive about Change’ became the theme for this year. Chief Executive, Lady Rhona Bradley embarks on a change management Process, including a new, more contemporary, mission statement and set of vision and values. We embarked on a consultation for a revamped name and logo under the direction of a newly appointed Head Of Communications. We also saw the development of a streamlined 3 year Strategic Plan with 3 key objectives underpinned by departmental smaller ones. We extended out geographical footprint with funding for services in Cumbria and Warrington.
We launched our new look and had made great strides in the way we communicate and ensued a much more professional approach in all our brand and corporate identity.
A robust Executive Management Team, consisting of Director of Finance, Director of Operations, Director of HR, Director of Communications and Area Directors was now in place, with support from Heads of Business Development, Performance Management, Policy and Research and Quality Standards & Practice.
More services opened in Derby and in Trafford in Partnership with Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. ADS Head Office moved to larger premises and now have flagship premises.