North Essex

Mid Essex

South Essex

West Essex



Open Road was established in 1990 by Richard Ashrowan and Bridie McElroy at their home in Colchester. Open Road subsequently moved to the Trinity Centre in Colchester.

Initially it opened for acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Counselling and in its first year saw 50 service users who were living with problems related to drugs, alcohol or tranquillisers.

In 1991 we moved premises to 15 Queen Street, extended our opening hours to 5 full days per week and added additional therapies including shiatsu massage and aromatherapy. In the same year we started a needle exchange and introduced HIV testing and counselling.

The demand for our services was significant and in 1992 we set up our volunteer scheme. A year later we managed to raise funding to purchase a new site in Colchester. In 1994 funding was secured for a similar project in Clacton – which was a joint initiative between NEEDAS (North East Essex Drug and Alcohol Services) and Social Services.

Our rate of growth has been rapid and responsive to the demands of our existing and potential service users. In 1996 we went on to obtain funding for five additional staff. We started working in partnership with the Probation Service, which included their funding of a full time probation worker attached to Open Road. New Therapy services started including: -

  • Art group
  • Relaxation Group
  • Relapse prevention
  • Group Acupuncture – drop in
  • Leisure World Group

In 1997, we secured a grant from the National Lottery Charities Board, which enabled us to purchase and open new premises in Clacton. Group therapies increased as a result. At the same there were significant service developments in user involvement, shared care arrangements with other statutory and non-statutory bodies and outcome monitoring – based on goals negotiated with service users.

In 1998 we introduced a new computer network, with support from Colchester Catalyst Trust. This meant that we could start work on developing a comprehensive database for statistical information, thereby increasing our capacity to measure our performance and identify areas for improvement or development. The provision of information, advice and support in relation to Hepatitis C was introduced and there was a significant increase in all aspects of our work in Clacton.

In January 2003 we obtained additional funding from Essex DAT (Drug Action Team) to start a third service in Mid Essex. Initially operating from Changes (the Statutory Drug & Alcohol Team) in Chelmsford for two years, we then finally secured our own site in Braintree which commenced in March 2005.

In 2006 we opened a treatment centre in Burnham on Crouch, further developing our services across North and Mid Essex.

In 2008 we secured funding from Essex Drug and Alcohol Action Team to extend our services to South Essex, enabling us to meet the needs of clients across Brentwood, Basildon, Castle Point & Rochford.

In 2009/10 we took on responsibility for Drug Services in West Essex, covering Harlow, Uttlesford and Epping Forest. We also began delivering an Essex-wide aftercare and community re-integration service called New Horizons.

In April 2011 we launched a brand new Recovery Service in Suffolk, working in partnership with Suffolk DAAT and CRI, operating from three main bases in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

We are proud to have achieved recognition from and credibility with our partner agencies and funders and we look forward to developing these relationships further. To our service users we offer an informal and welcoming environment and a firm opportunity to make a real difference to their lives in a safe and non-judgemental setting. We have the freedom to respond quickly and appropriately to peoples’ needs and we want to be able to maintain that position, but will require further resources to do so in the future.


  • Who we are

    Meet some of the people behind our organisation. Board of Trustees, Senior Management and Service managers.

  • Our Partners

    We have a number of funding and contractual partners to deliver our services and treatments.