Stevenage drug worker nominated for home office award

A DRUG worker in Comet country has been nominated for a Home Office award. Janis Feely, founder and director of addiction treatment centre The Living Room in Stevenage, has been nominated in the category of Drug Worker of the Year in the Home Office Tackl

A DRUG worker in Comet country has been nominated for a Home Office award.

Janis Feely, founder and director of addiction treatment centre The Living Room in Stevenage, has been nominated in the category of Drug Worker of the Year in the Home Office Tackling Drugs Changing Lives Awards.

The awards aim to recognise, reward and celebrate the work being done by drug teams and workers across the country.

Janis used her own experiences in overcoming an addiction to alcohol to set up The Living Room in 2000.


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"As a recovering addict I understand the difficulties facing people with substance and alcohol addictions," Janis said. "I recognised early on working in other treatment centres in Hertfordshire that addicts can relapse easily if they are not given the right support after treatment.

"That is why it was important for me to set up a centre that would not only help people overcome their addictions but also provide aftercare to help them back into society."

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The Living Room's support services include access to employment and training, as well as help with debt problems.

The addiction centre has 18 paid staff and 20 volunteers and is one of a few in the country with a cr�che.

Janis explained: "It was important to me to provide a facility that would make it easier for parents to receive treatment and keep their children with them.

"Our cr�che, which is Ofsted-registered, offers free care for 12 children a day. Without this support many parents wouldn't be able to attend the support programme.

"Too often those going through treatment are separated from their children and the repercussions both for them and their children can be very damaging."

Last year 204 clients with dependants were referred to The Living Room and 101 engaged in treatment.

The success rate is about 70 per cent and in 2008 76 people achieved abstinence from their drug of choice and four children were returned to parents from care.

"A lot of our success comes from having trained counsellors like me who have had their own experiences of drug or alcohol addictions in the past," said Janis.

"It's really important that those who come to us feel that they can speak to people who genuinely understand drug addiction and the problems they face."

Janis is proud of how far the organisation has come over the past nine years and the positive effect it has had on the community.

"I love my work. Challenging as it can be at times, the rewards are invaluable.

"I've always wanted to give back, and what I do is essentially saving lives. That makes every day worthwhile for me and for all the dedicated people who work here."

There are six categories in this year's Home Office Tackling Drugs Changing Lives Awards.

Five finalists will be chosen in each category and, from these, two overall winners will each receive �10,000 for their organisation to spend on developing their work.

Anyone can nominate a drug worker or drug team. For more information or to download a nomination form, visit www.drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk\awards2009

The closing date for nominations is Monday, August 31.

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