Battling drugs and booze in the Dearne

(l-r) Kate Roberts, Hayley Bunney, Michelle Barker, Diane Bainbridge, Denise Miller, Robin Earle, project co-ordinator, John Healey MP, Bernadette Milnes, project director and Chris Howard, at the ribbon cutting for the opening of The Light House Project. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Kate Roberts, Hayley Bunney, Michelle Barker, Diane Bainbridge, Denise Miller, Robin Earle, project co-ordinator, John Healey MP, Bernadette Milnes, project director and Chris Howard, at the ribbon cutting for the opening of The Light House Project. Picture: Andrew Roe

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THREE people who were once reliant on drugs or alcohol to get them through the day, are behind a new Goldthorpe scheme to help addicts to break free.

Robin Earle, Bernadette Milne and Denise Miller are joined by a swarm of volunteers at their ‘safe haven’ cum café on Doncaster Road.

Everyone there understands why and how people are sucked in to addictions...then face a huge struggle to lose them.

“There’s a huge demand for help in this area,” said Robin, who is the commercial director at The Lighthouse Project.

They are a community interest company, he explained, which means that profits are locked in to the business, for the benefit of the business. Workers are allowed to make a profit by running their café, for example. But the café is vital for recoverers to learn new skills, study nutrition, gain qualifications and mix with others in similar situations.

Unless dependents on drugs and alcohol break away from a social life based around users, they have no chance of recovery, said Robin. “It’s so important to mix and talk with others who are of a similar mind.”

Funding is always a major issue, and is usually the reason schemes are forced to fold, even if they are brilliantly successful.

Lighthouse staff have applied to both the Big Lottery Fund and the Tudor Trust for community cash to back their work and give them some security to move forward. They are determined to thrive, however difficult it may be, but know there is so much more they could do with the necessary cash - and there are rent and bills to pay.

Along with the café and training kitchen at the Lighthouse Project, that was opened officially on Friday by Dearne MP John Healey, are group rooms for therapy, crafts and computer use. A team of 15 volunteers licked the building in to shape.

Drugs are still big business in the Dearne, said Robin. “It’s an ongoing battle. There are a number of dealers operating. It’s a hard fact that as long as folk are making money, drugs will be around. From MCAT to heroin, it’s all out there.”

But their work, that is a continuation of the successful ‘Miracle’ group for women at Bolton, is cutting through the cycle. To date, up to 13 locals have achieved their Food Safety certificates, amid various ongoing routes of study.