Forward Leeds has had its contract extended by Leeds City Council for a further three years.

It means Forward Leeds will continue to provide the city’s alcohol and drug service up to July 2023, supporting people in the city with substance misuse issues and promoting prevention work.

Since it launched in July 2015, the service has supported over 11,000 adults and 900 young people. The service offers one-to-one support, groups, access to rehabilitation and detoxification programmes, harm minimisation, support for families, as well as community-based work to offer advice and information to the public.

Executive Director Anna Headley said: “We are all very excited at this news. The extension for three more years gives us a level of stability and enables us to continue developing and progressing to meet the needs of those wanting to use our services.”

It wouldn’t have been possible without all the hard work and commitment of our staff. In a climate of tight budgets, at an incredibly busy organisation, our team have continued to deliver an outstanding service to those coming in for support. It’s great this has been recognised by Leeds City Council.”

“We’re very proud that around 150 people meet their goals and exit our service every month.”

The service had introduced take-home naloxone kits that help prevent deaths from overdoses and established 5 WAYS as the Leeds centre for sustained recovery from substance misuse.

Forward Leeds outreach workers are based in more than 40 GP surgeries and health centres across the city, as well as staff in hospitals. Its young people’s team do over 600 school visits a year to work with under 18s.

Anna said: “We’re leading the way internationally with innovative treatment pathways for new psychoactive substances such as ‘spice’. We’ve introduced drug and alcohol workers on the streets of Leeds, working with those living street-based lifestyles. We even work with people who just want help to moderate their drinking.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We know substance misuse – whether of legal or illegal products – has devastating long and short-term consequences for too many people across the city. I am delighted Forward Leeds will continue to play their vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of the city.

“Having the right prevention and treatment services available to offer support and advice is so important for Leeds City Council so I am proud that we can continue to commission this service.”

“Their recent CQC report showed they were outstandingly led, and the council will continue to work closely with them to make sure we provide the best possible service for people in Leeds.”

Former user of the Forward Leeds service Paul Waterworth said: “I’m so pleased Forward Leeds have got this extension. The service gives people hope and allows them to make better choices. They provide support and are always there for advice for people like me.

“If the service came to an end, I would be devastated for myself and all the people who are yet to pass through their doors. The whole city should be extremely proud to have such a compassionate service.”

Copyright 2016 Forward Leeds