A helping hand

Griffith Edwards
Griffith Edwards, psychiatrist and scientist, carried out groundbreaking work on treatment for addiction. He was also founder of Phoenix House more than 45 years ago, when drug and alcohol ‘treatment’ meant being shut up for a long spell in hospital.

Phoenix Futures has launched the Griffiths Edwards Fund to champion his belief that ‘no one size fits all’ 

Access to drug treatment saves lives, gives people a second chance, and reunites families. This was the message from Phoenix Futures, at the House of Lords to launch the Griffiths Edwards Fund – to help people to access residential treatment, when they were unable to find funding through other routes.

Former clients, several of whom now work for the organisation, stepped forward to talk about what the treatment had done for them. ‘When I entered treatment I felt helpless, but when I walked through the doors at Phoenix I felt there was hope,’ said Leanne. Ian told the story of how he had moved from a life of crime to running a successful business, putting back into the system through paying taxes and creating employment.

Another Ian and Stuart, both employed by Phoenix, talked of the satisfaction they got from working for the organisation and the opportunity it gave them to give something back, while former Addaction chief executive Peter Martin spoke of how his incredible journey had started at Phoenix.

Phoenix Futures supports many people with complex needs around mental health, housing, poor general health, unemployment and debt. Speakers talked about how they often benefited the most from residential care, through respite from day-to-day challenges and removal from an often chaotic environment, allowing them to focus fully on treatment. It also gave providers the opportunity to build a support package around them.

Last year Phoenix gave away more than half a million pounds worth of residential rehabilitation and had risen to the challenge of providing these services despite limited resources, said chief executive Karen Biggs. Much of this work was with ‘people whose lives are not straight lines’, she said. But that fact that 23 per cent of service users gained their first ever qualification while at Phoenix demonstrated how they were helping people move on with their lives.

The new fund will provide access to residential treatment within the Phoenix group, for those who are unable to access funding through other routes. As well as providing support during treatment, the fund will enable people to engage with housing, education and training opportunities to help them build a new life.

‘The fund isn’t named after Griffith Edwards purely because he was the founder of Phoenix Futures,’ said Biggs. ‘It is because he was a humble self-effacing man who believed that no one size fits all.’

To find out more or to donate, visit www.phoenixfutures.org.uk/griffith-edwards-fund