Shortage of cash has forced the closure of an organisation that has provided frontline services to drug and alcohol abusers in the isles for 25 years.
Community Alcohol and Drugs Services Shetland (CADSS) closed its doors at 44 Commercial Street, Lerwick, where it was located above Faerdie Maet (formerly Solottis), for the last time yesterday.
A joint statement from CADSS and Shetland Islands Coucil said that the charity had “exhausted its reserves”.
It has fallen victim to chronic underfunding with its annual £500,000 budget shrinking by 57 per cent in 2015/16 with a further 68 per cent cut proposed for 2016/17.
As a result it has paid off its last six full-time staff with another four having gone last year. The charity had only one part-time worker who dealt with administration.
According to the statement, adult service users previously supported by CADSS will now be supported by the local Substance Misuse Recovery Service run by NHS Shetland. This followed 25 years of providing support services to “those impacted by drug and alcohol misuse, including an education and support service for young people”.
CADSS board chairwoman Jacqui Diamond said: “The board has not taken this decision lightly. We have been working closely over the past few months with Shetland Islands Council and NHS Shetland to look at ways to find a long-term sustainable position for CADSS, but unfortunately that has proved to be impossible.
“As part of the redesign of SMRS [Substance Misuse Recovery Services] in Shetland, CADSS have suffered severe budget cuts over the last two years (57 per cent in 2015/16; with a current proposal being a further 68 per cent for 2016/17). As a result we have exhausted our reserves.
“Over the past 15 months we have made significant efforts to source external funding to make up our budget shortfall. However, our lack of success at obtaining the necessary additional external funding has made us realise that in today’s very competitive climate this is unlikely to happen, and as a result we have no option but to cease providing services.”
Councillor Cecil Smith, chairman of the Integration Joint Board, which aims to bring together services provided by the SIC and NHS said: “This is obviously very disappointing news, as CADSS has provided a valuable service to our community for many years.
“I can, however, reassure service users and their families that they will continue to be supported. The Substance Misuse Recovery Service will continue to provide the open access drop in
and needle exchange and informal support for anyone struggling with alcohol and drug-related issues.
“The SMRS will also arrange for services to young people to continue. If anyone has any concerns they should contact the SMRS on (01595) 743675/743006.”
CADSS will be open tomorrow with information for its clients about how and where to access drugs and alcohol services. The service for young people will be provided by “a new, redesigned” set-up.
“We will continue to provide support for those that need it,” added Mr Smith.