An emergency fundraising appeal has been made to save a charity that helps people struggling with addiction.
The Road to Recovery Trust, the organisation behind Newcastle’s only recovery café, George Street Social, has launched the appeal to save it from closure.
The trust provides safe spaces, hosts 12-step meetings and is a supportive community for people in recovery from all kinds of addictions, and works relentlessly to tackle the stigma that many vulnerable people face.
A spokesperson said: “Addiction is a devastating mental health problem that, due to stigma in society, causes many people to suffer in silence.
"Perhaps due to this stigma, funding is also in short supply, and many drug and alcohol services have been wiped out over the years due to budget cuts.
"As funding has dropped, deaths have increased, and in 2019, the North East reported its highest ever drug and alcohol mortality rate.
"We need to end the stigma now and fight for those of us who struggle – be it our friends, family, neighbours, colleagues or strangers who might be battling this disease alone. So often, addiction is the result of trauma or mental illness leading people to seek relief in alcohol, gambling, drugs, food or sex.
"The trust has been a lifeline for so many people since its inception and especially since opening the doors to George Street Social in 2016. We are deeply concerned about the loss of another much-needed support service in drug and alcohol recovery.
"If we can save just one life by being there for someone who needs empathy and understanding, it’s worth every penny."
Most of the staff and trustees are themselves in recovery, and part of the café’s remit has been to provide employment opportunities for people who are doing everything they can to get their lives back on track.
So how can members of the public help?
The trust is asking people to help in any of the following ways:
The trust is currently running a free, confidential peer support helpline for anyone in the Newcastle and North Tyneside area who is struggling with addiction. The helpline, George Street 24/7, which is staffed by volunteers, can be reached by calling 0191 8149796.
For more information, visit the charity's website.