News in Focus: Fighting drug and alcohol addiction in Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 September 2015 | UPDATED: 15:10 30 September 2015

The Subwize team

The Subwize team


An addiction to drugs, a binge drinking habit, an alcoholic parent destroying the family – for some young people, these are very real problems.

Micaela Sharpley with Jackie Campbell, who was at one point drinking a litre of vodka a dayMicaela Sharpley with Jackie Campbell, who was at one point drinking a litre of vodka a day

But for one organisation, rescuing victims in such situations is a speciality.

CRI Subwize, which is based in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, works with people aged up to 25 who are affected by drugs or alcohol – and succeeds by winning trust and encouraging self-reliance.

“We get children aged six and up who are referred by police or hospitals because their parents are drinking, doing drugs, emotionally neglecting them,” Micaela Sharpley, family worker at Subwize, explained..

“We try to break the chain, stop the intergenerational abuse.

David Dunkley and Louise Mcloughlin hard at workDavid Dunkley and Louise Mcloughlin hard at work

“Often a parent is drinking and all the money goes on the alcohol. The child suffers, and they end up blaming themselves. As long as a child has one positive person in their lives, they can flourish – and that’s the role we aim to play.”

Jackie Campbell turned her life around, thanks to Subwize.

“My three grandsons, who I’m the carer for, were really bad,” the 49-year-old said. “But Micaela earned their trust and calmed them down.

“I was living in a house with nine people at one stage – I’ve got six kids as well – and I was drinking a litre of vodka a day.

“Without Subwize, I probably would have killed myself and the boys would have been taken away.”

Jackie spent about a year in CRI’s adult service, and topped it off by doing something she always said she’d avoid.

“I got married recently and it felt like part of the recovery process,” she said. “I was so proud of the boys – and I didn’t have a drink, not even at my own wedding.”

“I’ve been through hell and back – and the boys have, too. But I feel I owe it to Subwize. There should be so many more of these places – maybe they could help get some of the kids off the streets.”

Now Jackie volunteers at a school and always looks out for ways of helping people in need.

“I feel I should give something back,” she said. “Even today, I saw a homeless man in the street and got him a coffee and McMuffin.

“I ain’t been down the drug aisle, but I’ve been down the alcohol aisle – I know what it’s like, so I have more sympathy now.”

For Julia Mayer, team leader at Subwize, the key is to help people in all areas of their lives.

“We have a holistic approach to getting people through drug and alcohol problems,” she said.

“If someone is homeless then it’s not that important to them that they’re always smoking cannabis.

“We talk to them, help them into education or work, encourage them to try sport and music.”

If you wish to get in touch with Subwize, call 020 8227 5019 or follow @subwizelondon on Twitter.

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