Council axes funding for ‘vital’ substance misuse education charity (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford Council pulls the plug on £10,000 grant for mum’s substance abuse education scheme
A charity which warns children of the dangers of substance abuse and whose work saw its founder awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List late last year has had its funding axed by Bradford Council.
Pat Bleau set up the Chantelle Bleau Memorial Fund in 1997 following the tragic death of her 16-year-old daughter Chantelle, of Horton Bank Top, who had inhaled butane gas from a cigarette lighter refill.
It carries out workshops at schools across Bradford and West Yorkshire to inform youngsters of the perils of substance misuse – work Mrs Bleau described as “vital”.
But Council chiefs have now decided to end a £10,000 annual grant the charity receives after a review was carried out into the way substance misuse education programmes were being taught in schools.
The grant, which was due to end at the start of the financial year last month, will now stop in September after an extension was agreed to allow the charity time to seek alternative ways of funding its work.
Mrs Bleau, 59, said her organisation was told what money the Council had would be ploughed into treatment and cure, rather than the prevention and education methods used by her charity.
But she insisted that was the wrong way round – although she conceded cuts had to be made somewhere.
“Prevention and education are key to everything,” she said. “You don’t close the door after the horse has bolted.
“I don’t blame the Council. It has decided to axe prevention, but it would be better to put money into prevention.
“Prevention and education are the key to helping people make informed choices.”
Mrs Bleau said the organisation would have to find new funders or close. Alternatively, it could charge schools for the services – something she wants to avoid.
“It is a massive thing we have put in place,” she said.
“We are the only scheme of this kind, going into schools and warning children on solvent abuse.”
A Council spokesman said following the review it had decided to focus on targeted support for schools around all substances that young people may use or misuse, including volatile substance abuse.
He added: “The Council values the Voluntary and Community Sector and recognises its critical role in delivering on the district’s priorities.
“We recognise that asking organisations to absorb annual cuts in funding can jeopardise the viability of some and the services they deliver, but the sector cannot be insulated from the impact of national spending cuts and the Council has to secure the best deal for local taxpayers.
“Volatile substance abuse is the misuse of household products such as gases, glues and aerosols.
“The Council has reviewed the provision of young people’s substance misuse services and funding will be focused on targeted support for schools around all substances that young people may use or misuse including volatile substance abuse.
“This includes targeted support for young people on a range of substance misuse issues through school nursing, support for schools in developing the PSHE programme, which includes drug and alcohol education, targeted support in schools and with individuals who require additional support or brief interventions.”
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