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Addiction charity Focus facing closure

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Drug and alcohol addiction charity Focus could close in as little as two months unless fresh funding can be found.

“We find ourselves in a very high-risk financial position,” Sandy Butterfield, the group's founder, told The Royal Gazette.

Focus, based on Elliott Street, Hamilton, needs $450,000 a year to provide its wide range of services to help addicts both in the short and long term.

Ms Butterfield said the charity has struggled to raise those funds since the economic crisis hit the Island. The news comes after the Centre on Philanthropy revealed charities are facing unprecedented financial pressure, with 65 per cent experiencing an increase in demand and the same proportion facing difficulty providing ongoing operations.

Seven days a week, Focus opens its doors at 8am, serving as a safe haven for those in need while providing food and drink, advocacy, job opportunities, spiritual guidance and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

It houses 18 people in supportive residency, many of whom are based on a 3.3-acre St George's property, which is up for sale.

Ms Butterfield insisted that, even if the property is sold or Focus closes, the vulnerable people in supportive residency will remain cared for “no matter what”.

The charity, which Mrs Butterfield started in 1993 with fellow addiction counsellor Jerry Griffiths, employs three full-time staff members, and welcomes volunteer support.

She believes that Bermuda's drugs problem, particularly with cocaine, heroin and marijuana, has worsened since then, owing to both an increase in the global narcotics trade and local unemployment issues.

“To run this programme, and all the things we do, costs $450,000 a year,” Mrs Butterfield said. “We were fortunate before the recession — funding was not an issue and there was plenty of money to spare.”

Although keen to stress her gratitude for funding from the Bermuda Government over the years, Mrs Butterfield says her charity's financial position is now untenable.

“I'm really hoping that somebody in the public sector will see and understand the work we do,” she said. “Everybody who comes here suffers from addiction, and this is a second home for many of them. If the people we help are here in this building, they're not on the street engaging in negative behaviour like breaking into houses or dealing drugs.

“If we're not here, they're going to go down to Front Street or they're going to sit in a crackhouse.”

Mrs Butterfield, who was honoured for her charity work at an Elbow Beach awards ceremony two months ago, said that she will continue to volunteer with addicts elsewhere in Bermuda. “I will always do something,” she said.

• Anyone interested in helping Focus should call Ms Butterfield on 532-1292. For more information, visit www.focus.bm.

Heartboken: Sandy Butterfiled has learned that her 'Focus' charity funding will be diminished. ( Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Heartbroken: Sandy Butterfield has learnt that her Focus charity funding will be diminished (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published November 04, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 04, 2015 at 10:22 am)

Addiction charity Focus facing closure

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