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Posted on: 28th February 2014

Open Road Newsletter - On the road - Issue 10

Welcome to the March 2014 issue of our quarterly newsletter, ‘On the road’.


Welcome to our latest newsletter and a very happy new year to everyone. Now is the time for new year’s resolutions and this is certainly evident at our centres, with lots of new referrals and optimistic service users, determined to break the cycle of drug and alcohol misuse and start on their road to recovery. Good luck to everyone.

Choices Alcohol Service – we are delighted and excited to announce that we will soon be providing an extended alcohol service across Essex, funded by Public Health in conjunction with our partners at EYPDAS. Kerry, Anna and myself worked on the proposal for the EDAP (Essex Drug & Alcohol Partnership), between Christmas and New Year, and we hope that this service will be up and running in the very near future. Charity Ball – having decided last year not to organise a Charity Ball in 2013 after 19 years of hosting this event, I am pleased to announce that in September 2014 this event will again take place. This time we will be using a new venue, which will accommodate over 100 additional guests – further details of this event will be published in our next newsletter and on our website.

VAT registration – in December 2013 we became VAT registered, which despite additional work in the finance department, will be beneficial in providing more cost effective services. Help for Heroes – Anna & I met with the Help for Heroes team at their amazing centre in Colchester and had a guided tour, discussing the programmes they offer to injured army personnel. We hope to provide counselling services to them in the future when they extend their services to army veterans. New Trustee – I am delighted to welcome Yvonne Larkin as a new member of our Board of Trustees. Yvonne joined us towards the end of 2013 and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in HR, having worked for a number of multi national organisations. Harlow Site – as many of you may be aware, our Harlow team (one of the busiest) has struggled to provide services, along with partner agencies, from our very small site in Wych Elm. A search for larger premises has been on-going for a couple of years, and finally we think we have located a new, much larger site, in a prime location. Currently we are negotiating the contract, and hope that all goes according to plan, and that we can relocate in the near future.

Serious Incident – unfortunately, we had a serious incident at our Mansard House site in Chelmsford in October. This involved a member of the public bringing a large number of chemicals into the building for us to dispose of. Fumes from the chemicals affected a number of staff from the Choices team, which resulted in them being admitted to hospital. I am pleased to report that all staff involved are all fine now and back at work. The incident was something we had never dealt with before, and all staff involved dealt with this in a professional manner, both at the time and after the event. An incident review took place and this was followed up by some excellent training from Alan Adams, from Essex Police, so that we can learn and ensure that if any future similar incident occurs, we are fully equipped to deal with it. Sadly, Jonathan Goode, an ex service user of Open Road who became a volunteer at our Colchester centre, giving back so much to other service users and Open Road in general, died on 9th December. Our thoughts and sympathy go to his two sons, Sean and Daniel and his daughter Harriot, his mother, family and friends.

And finally again, I would welcome any comments and ideas anyone has on our services or items you would like to see in our forthcoming newsletters.