Desperate bid to save alcohol service fails but founder says “we shall return”

Nick Charles, founder of Gainsborough, was made an MBE for his servies to alcohol treatment.

Nick Charles, founder of Gainsborough, was made an MBE for his servies to alcohol treatment. - Credit: Archant

A multi-award winning alcohol treatment service closed its doors for the final time on Friday after a desperate bid to keep it open failed.

The Gainsborough Foundation, set up by former alcoholic Nick Charles, launched a campaign to save the service earlier this year after being told funding would be withdrawn from April 1.

The service, which had its headquarters in Ramsey, provided treatment programmes for people with alcohol dependency problems and had been largely funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG opted, however, to transfer its alcohol treatment services to Cambridgeshire

County Council and, as the county council runs its own service, it decided not to provide funding to Gainsborough.

Mr Charles told The Hunts Post: “I would like to thank the enormous number of people who have tried in vain to save the Gainsborough service. We have received more than 1,000 communications of various sorts which has been extremely humbling, and the magic of the internet has quadrupled that number; many have arrived from other parts of the country.”

Asked what the next step was for Gainsborough, Mr Charles added: “This sad day is not the time to reveal our next step, suffice to say, that Gainsborough supporters and lovers of fair play everywhere, will not remain in sorrow or rage for very long. We shall return.”

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The treatment programme, which has been recognised by the elite of the medical profession, including the Royal College of General Practitioners, was set up by Mr Charles in 2008.

He has also battled alcohol problems, but has been sober for 40 years, and wrote the programme while he was living in a Salvation Army Hostel in London.

The CCG said it received a fixed budget to buy and provide health services for the entire local population.

“Like all CCGs up and down the country, there is greater demand on our budget than we have the budget to spend,” the CCG said in a statement.

“We need to look at all our services, and can only commission those we have the funding and responsibility for. Our priority is to ensure that patients can continue to access support services when they need and will work with our partners and service users to ensure this happens.”