End of an era

We recently announced our winning bid to provide an integrated drug and alcohol service to the community in Islington, working in partnership with C&I NHS Trust and WDP. We are delighted about continuing to support the community there for a further 5-9 years and pleased to report that the mobilisation of the service is progressing well.

CASA Staff team in the 80’s

We also wanted to recognise that the start of the new service in April will mark the end of an era with the loss of the CASA name. CASA (the Camden Alcoholics Support Association) was born in 1977 after recognising the need for a service focusing on people with issues associated with alcohol. Blenheim and CASA merged in 2012 and it was very clear from the beginning there were shared values and principles across both organisations. Before the merger Blenheim historically was a charity that supported people with drug addiction and learnt a lot from CASA about the provision of alcohol services and support to children, families and friends.

Hazel Jordan, who started working for CASA in 1991, supported the merger and only recently left Blenheim to work at PHE, looked back on CASA’s history when Blenheim celebrated 50 years of social action in 2014:

“Reflecting on my experience of working with CASA and thinking of the many clients, staff, trustees and partners who have been part of its story, I am struck by the fact that while it is a story of continuous change, certain characteristics of the organisation have remained constant throughout. CASA was initially established as a 5 bedded residential hostel for primary alcohol users, run initially by two staff. CASA was known for its innovative services. We were among the first to run specialist services for clients with multiple needs, LGBT, parents, older people and families as well as an education, training and employment project.”

CASA recognised a need to support the whole family in 1980 and once a dedicated family worker was in place referrals into the service doubled within a year. Since then the family service has gone from strength to strength, even through a period of funding cuts. Last year 83% of the families the CASA Family Service helped showed a reduction in drug and alcohol related harm to children. This specialist service will continue as an integral part of the integrated service in Islington, one of the few remaining in London.

A service user from the Family Service said: “An extremely supportive and understanding service which has been very helpful to my family. My worker has been an amazing support and a pillar of strength through a very difficult period in my life.”

Baroness Dianne Hayter, former Chair of CASA and now Patron for Blenheim speaks about her experience and the impact that CASA has had on the community in Islington and Camden:

“My involvement in CASA has been long – indeed over 25 years, always as a Trustee, and for a long period as Chair. CASA has been vital to Islington

and Camden, boroughs with a demand for services for problem drinkers. Group and individual work which, above all, respected the client and recognised the individuality of their needs. This therapeutic response has helped thousands over more than 40 years, from the early days as a residential service to a community-based counselling, employment and family service, with particular specialisms in dual-diagnosis and the older

drinker.”

CASA’s excellent reputation has supported our bid in Islington that means that we can continue to support people with drug and alcohol problems in the borough for another 5-9 more years.

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