Street drinkers treatment centre in Lincolnshire 'would save public cash'
Plans for a treatment centre to tackle street drinking in Lincoln would save public services thousands of pounds every year, it is claimed.
Housing charity Framework has submitted plans for a facility which it says will help the NHS, the police and the courts save cash.
A proposal has been handed into the City of Lincoln Council for the facility at 77B South Park.
The centre would house 15 people at any one time and be staffed 24 hours a day, with the aim of helping street drinkers live sustainable and independent lives.
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Residents will be placed on a treatment programme modelled on a method used at Michael Varnam House in Nottingham.
Framework chief executive Andrew Redfern said: "The link between alcohol and homelessness is well established and we know from experience that both problems cannot be treated in isolation.
"Homeless people who are addicted to alcohol need extra support to effectively re-engage with society, while those people most at risk of homelessness are very often in that position because of their misuse of alcohol.
"Framework has considerable experience and expertise in this field. We have been running Michael Varnam House in Nottingham for 12 years –– the first alcohol treatment centre in the country to offer both controlled drinking and abstinence resettlement programmes on site.
"Our results prove that this approach provides effective treatment and we are proud that it has been recognised in leading medical journals.
"The South Park development will address a considerable local problem and, we believe, save the wider community thousands of pounds each year.
"We are also confident, based on our experiences in Nottingham, that the development will not have a noticeable impact on local residents.
"In the last year, the police have received no calls to our Michael Varnam House scheme in Nottingham."
The building and its immediate surroundings will be covered by CCTV to ensure compliance with strict residency rules.
And in addition to taking part in their treatment programmes, all service users will be expected to undertake a minimum of 16 hours of structured activity per week as a therapeutic tool and diversion away from alcohol.
The service is aimed at men and women aged 18 and over who want to make positive changes to their lifestyles and the average stay will be between three and six months.
In the first nine months of 2010-11, 1,578 people were admitted to hospital in Lincoln as a result of alcohol abuse. Across Lincolnshire the figure was 11,538.
Each A&E admission costs hospitals around £600 and each overnight stay more than £700.
Park ward resident Nicholas Dore, 62, who works in the University of Lincoln library, said he is tolerant of centres which aim to help alcoholics.
"Alcoholism is getting to be a major problem and you see it on the streets of Lincoln and in other cities, both large and small," he said.
"Alcoholism is an awful problem and I don't have any issue with such a facility that can offer help to alcoholics."