Abingdon drug support project could be axed

Oxford Mail: Craig Morbey, project manager at The Abingdon Bridge Craig Morbey, project manager at The Abingdon Bridge

A DRUG and alcohol support service for young people in Abingdon could be axed after a vital grant from Comic Relief ended.

For about 20 years, vulnerable youngsters who have needed support have been able to rely on The Abingdon Bridge, a youth charity offering advice, counselling and access to specialist services.

The Comic Relief charity has supported the work of The Abingdon Bridge on alcohol abuse for three years, but has announced it is unable to continue its £25,000-a -year grant after next month.

Trustees at the Abingdon Bridge had applied for the grant to be maintained but their bid was unsuccessful. That means it has lost a third of its income. Craig Morbey, project manager of The Abingdon Bridge in Bridge Street, said drug and alcohol workshops helped 1,998 young people last year. He explained: “Once the Comic Relief funding goes, we will have to lose both drug and alcohol workers and as a result would not be able to run that service.

“We have trained staff who go into schools to talk about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and provide special sessions for youngsters referred to us by Thames Valley Police.

“We have had some real success stories and the impact on their lives has been fantastic.”

Mr Morbey said the charity still receives £12,000 a year from Children in Need and receives other funding from three Abingdon churches and other individual donations. It is now launching a fundraising drive to make up the shortfall and enable the advice work to continue.

Trustees hope that businesses as well as individuals, the councils, local churches, charities and grant-making bodies will come to its rescue.

Mr Morbey said property consultants Kemp & Kemp have adopted The Abingdon Bridge as their chosen charity for the year.

The charity, which launched 22 years ago, also gets funding from Abingdon town council.

Town clerk Nigel Warner said the council gave The Abingdon Bridge a grant of £4,935 last year. From April, this rises to £5,181.

As well as running the drug and alcohol sessions for 13 to 25 year olds, The Abingdon Bridge also runs a youth club for teenagers.

Comic Relief spokesman Catherine Donegan said: “The Abingdon Bridge project was awarded a three-year grant.When this ended they reapplied for an additional grant but unfortunately were unsuccessful.”

To help Abingdon Bridge, contact 01235 522375.

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