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Thirty years on, funding urgent for Focus Counselling

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We need it now more than ever: Alicia Tucker, left, Focus Counselling’s board member for fundraising, with Davina Cannonier, board member for governance; Leslie Grant, executive director and Trevanda Todd Christopher, chairwoman of Focus Counselling Services (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A leading addiction treatment service opened its doors yesterday to partner agencies – and potential donors.

Even as it celebrates 30 years in operation, Focus Counselling Services is keen to highlight its work cutting the social toll of substance abuse, in a bid to court badly-needed funding to carry its mission further.

“We are appealing for donations so we can continue to operate,” executive director Leslie Grant told The Royal Gazette as he met with representatives from the Department of Financial Assistance.

“Things are really lean at the moment. Our rooms are filling up, but finances are getting smaller.”

The open day was held at the charity’s headquarters off Barry Road in St George’s: Jerry’s House, named after the late Jerry Griffiths, who cofounded Focus with addiction counsellor Sandy Butterfield.

Jerry’s House: A portrait of the late addiction counsellor Jerry Griffiths holds a place of pride at Focus Counselling Services’ headquarters in St George’s (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Mr Grant said many in the community failed to appreciate the range of service provided by the charity for a range of substance abuse disorders.

It is the only treatment centre offering outpatient treatment services for women as well as men, and residential treatment – known as supportive living – for men only.

Adolescent services are also provided, typically after a referral by the Department of Child and Family Services.

Focus also hopes to expand its impaired driving education programme in partnership with one of the island’s insurance firms – and, by the summer, to launch a programme to help residents looking to wean themselves off smoking.

But with $450,000 a year required “just to keep the doors open, the bare minimum running”, Mr Grant said Focus Counselling Services was keen to mark the anniversary by telling its story.

“Recovery minimises the burden on the taxpayer,” he said. “On our 30th anniversary, we are reaching out to the community and asking for their financial support. We need it now more than ever.”

At present, Focus has four clients in residential treatment, four in supportive residency, and five in outpatient treatment – with a waiting list of four hoping to be admitted to residential treatment.

Mr Grant said the monthly cost per person averaged at $2,500 to $2,800.

Benefits range from getting people off Financial Assistance to restoring people suffering from substance abuse to productive work.

He highlighted another challenge faced by the charity: winning support from employers.

“Generally anyone with a substance abuse history or a criminal record has difficulty finding employment. But right now, more than ever, people need a hand up.”

While $450,000 a year keeps Focus running, the ideal is to obtain $983,000 annually to meet demand for treatment and expand the range of services on offer.

Trevanda Todd Christian, chairwoman of Focus Counselling Services, said that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, donations “nearly dried up”.

“We have staff members already performing double duty, so $450,000 is really the bare minimum,” she said.

“It takes close to $1 million to properly run this organisation – for the community to fully feel the benefits of what we are trying to accomplish here.”

• Donations to help Focus Counselling Services to carry on with its work can be made online at the HSBC account 006-047-104-001

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Published March 24, 2023 at 7:49 am (Updated March 24, 2023 at 7:49 am)

Thirty years on, funding urgent for Focus Counselling

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