Drug treatment centre is to close support service for children of drug and alcohol-using parents


Staff at Lifeline – a drug treatment centre in Hackney, London – are being balloted for industrial action over swingeing cuts to services for women and children.

Unite is balloting its 36 members at the Tudor Grove centre. The ballot opens in mid-January and closes by the end of the month.

Lifeline, funded by Hackney Borough Council, is to shut its support service for the children of drug and alcohol-using parents in February. It is also closing the specialist women’s service and the drug counselling service.

It is not yet clear what treatments will remain on offer once the cuts are made. The centre employs a total of 37 staff.

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “When you see the money that is being spent on the Olympics, it just beggars belief. People are really upset about losing their jobs, but it is the community and really vulnerable people who will suffer the most.”

Staff are hoping that, with the support of the public, including those who have personally benefited from recovery at the centre, Hackney council will look again at the scale of the cuts.

Jamie Major said: “No one actually wants to go on strike. None of the staff have ever been on strike so it’s a scary prospect for them, but they see no other option.  There is just anger and disappointment. From talking to staff, I predict a total walkout unless someone starts listening to us soon.”

The council estimates there are about 4,500 drug users in the borough – one of the highest numbers in London – and that most of these individuals have not yet been reached by the treatment services.

Lifeline Community Drug Service opened in 2008 and since then has successfully treated hundreds of local residents and provided support to the community on reducing the impact of drug use in Hackney, one of London’s most deprived boroughs.

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