ADS - 2013

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ADS was initially founded as Alcohol Information Services and acquired premises on Princess Street in Manchester. The following year the first general meeting was held and the management committee was formed.


The service moved to 86 Oldham Street (where ADS still operate a service) with the Samaritans, and developed a unique street level ‘walk-in’ service.

ADS were also crucial in the establishment of a pathway for habitual drunken offenders from the criminal justice system into detox services at Withington hospital.


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 were developing services throughout Lancashire.

The organisation’s 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 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).

1991 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.


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.

In 1994 21 years of service delivery 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 Volunteer Accredited Counsellor Training Scheme (VACTS), an Offenders Project in partnership with Greater Manchester Probation Service, a Families and Young Children Project, a Registered Care Home and employed a Lancashire Development Officer.


Funding was awarded to tackle substance misuse issues in black and ethnic minority 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

A new National Drugs Strategy provided more emphasis on drug treatment; enabling new contracts for Drug Day Care and Criminal Justice Services.


The organisations 30th anniversary! ADS now employed 136 staff and 100 volunteers to deliver 85 contracts with an annual budget of £3.49m. During this year ADS helped over 7,850 clients.

2004 saw the successful implementation of an innovative programme, Bridging the Gap (BTG), a pre employment programme helping people affected by substance misuse (either ex-service users or concerned others) gain the skills and confidence they need to go on to volunteering, further education and employment. This went on to win Community Care and National Training Awards.


With over 30 years of experience working in partnership, government legislation placed a new emphasis on partnership working in service delivery at a local level.

2006 saw the retirement of CEO Elizabeth Smith who had been with the organisation from the outset. She passed on her legacy to the CEO Lady Rhona Bradley who came to ADS with over 25 years experience in Criminal Justice with the National Probation Service in Greater Manchester and Cheshire

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 was Janusz Karczewski-Slowikowski, who had been ADS’s Treasurer; appointed to this role was fellow Trustee Anthony Williams.


Alcohol and Drug Services became Addiction Dependency Solutions. We developed a more proactive approach to communications and public affairs.

By 2010 we had expanded into Derby and were running services in Trafford in Partnership with CWP; we had outgrown our Head Office building and so relocated to larger premises, just down the road on Oldham Street in Manchester in the former iconic Big issue building.


ADS hosted an interview with Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former Director of Communications, at the Royal Exchange in Manchester and a ‘Question Time’ style debate in Westminster chaired by the Shadow Health Secretary The Rt. Hon Andy Burnham MP on addiction to prescription drugs.

ADS were also commissioned to deliver an ‘Addiction to Medicines’ services in Derby.

2013 - 2020

A period of Transformational Change began for ADS. The innovative One Recovery model of service provision launched in Bury, Oldham & Staffordshire, as did the hugely successful IFSS – Intensive Family Support Service. IFSS worked with families experiencing multiple needs, addressing substance misuse issues early before they detrimentally affect family life. Following decades of our successful Bridging the Gap programme, which helps people gain the skills they need to get the jobs they want, Our One Recovery Staffordshire service became one of the first services in the UK to deliver IPS – Individual Placement & Support, backed by Public Health England.

2020 - Now

The last five years saw drastic changes in the commissioning landscape. As local authorities were dealt cut after cut, organisations providing services such as ADS were forced to work with the tightest budgets that they had ever experienced. However, as core service funding was consequently being drastically reduced, the need for our services has been growing faster than ever before. We’ve realised that huge multi-service commissioning isn’t working for everyone, and that too many people are being left behind or lost in the system. We’ve decided that chasing contracts means we can’t do the holistic, people-focussed work that we started 50 years ago in Manchester, so we’re going to do things our way from now on, with grass-roots peer-focussed support coming directly to you in the heart of your community. Let’s make a difference.

Meet Our Team

Chris Judge


Chris Judge (he/him) has a passion for challenging the way things are done in drug and alcohol services. Chris believes in cutting through the barriers to accessing treatment. That people focussed, grassroots support in localised communities is the best way to achieve positive change. Chris has lived experience of alcoholism and domestic abuse through his childhood and early teens and this drives his passion to support communities. He spent time as a Probation Officer and Senior Probation Officer in Cheshire before joining ADS in 2011 as a Service Manager. He became a Service Delivery Director in 2014 before becoming Director of Strategic Development and Innovation in 2016. After a period of time away he is now back to deliver a vision of a new ADS.

Darren Spruce

Head of Engagement

Darren Spruce (He/Him) is Head of Engagement for ADS. Darren has worked in the alcohol & drug sector for 10 years and also works with LGBTQIA+ focussed organisations across Manchester & Yorkshire, specialising in community-focussed elevation for marginalised communities. He co-founded Yorkshire charity Happy Valley Pride in 2015 and has helped to develop it into becoming one of the leading LGBTQIA+ Community Arts organisations in the region and is excited to help grow the refocussed ADS.



Chiara (she/her) is a university student currently studying Social Anthropology. She has taken courses in Manchester about health and wellbeing, as well as the social aspects of issues regarding drugs. Chiara’s biggest passion and aspiration is working with alcohol and drug dependency issues, and this is what motivated her to become an ADS volunteer; supporting individuals who are experiencing these problems first-hand is an essential foundation for working towards a more human and compassionate approach to drug policy and treatment.



Adele currently works full time in Multi Agency Public Protection for Greater Manchester Probation Service and has experience working with a diverse group of people facing challenging issues such as addiction. Adele believes that to be able to reach out to someone struggling and help them into recovery is a privilege and the reason she is giving up her spare time to work with ADS. Her academic background is in Criminology with a BA(Hons) In Criminology and MSc in The Criminal Justice Process which has lead her to working with individuals facing personal strife due to addiction, mental health and complex histories and is the reason she wants to work with those who need the help they deserve in order for them lead a happier, healthier and crime free life.



Abbie is volunteering for ADS because after having friends and family that have dealt with addiction and substance misuse, she wants to be involved in helping those struggling with these. She believes that the stigma should be reduced so that people can get support without fear of judgement.



Holly is a third year student at Manchester Metropolitan University studying forensic psychology. Holly is volunteering for ADS to support those suffering with addiction as she works towards doing a masters in health psychology.

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