OPEN LETTER FROM MIDDLEGATE LODGE
UNIQUE REHAB FOR CHILDREN FACES CLOSURE
“By way of introduction, I am chairman of Middlegate,
a unique Ofsted-registered, residential rehabilitation unit treating young people aged 11-18 years of age which has been caring and treating young people since 1995. Middlegate’s aim is to rehabilitate and treat young people with substance-misuse and behavioural-related problems in a family residential setting.
I have read Kathy Gyngell’s article, No reason to be sanguine about teenage drug use, and also note the comment by Mike Trace of the urgent need for residential treatment for young under-18 addicts.
Middlegate has only five beds available to treat young people. It was forced over three years ago, because of funding issues, to lay off 10 programme workers and to close a four-bed unit.
In October last year, I attended the Community Care Live 08 conference for children and young people services and went to a workshop lead by Penelope Gibbs of the Prison Reform Trust, Why we should lock up fewer children.
My colleagues and I believe that too many young people lose their freedom unnecessarily. Our team of trained specialists work with the young people to develop their life skills, nurture them back into meaningful education, address their emotional and psychological issues, improve their general health, carry out family mediation and outreach involvement and gently help them over their dependence on drugs, alcohol and related substances.
Middlegate gets referrals from various sources: Drug Action Teams, Primary Care Trusts, Youth Offending Teams. We have had young people referred to us who have been in secure accommodation or indeed have been on Tag Orders. Normally, an assessment is done on site at our own cost or an assessment is done at the secure unit or young person’s home etc.
I regret to say that, unless a solution can be found to the current funding crisis, Middlegate will be joining the 18 adult residential units who because of lack of referrals have been forced to close. The experience of our dedicated caring and experienced staff will be lost.
Middlegate had a meeting with Tom Aldridge, head of Young People’s services in the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse last week. He mentioned that there are reforms in the criminal youth justice system in August. Although unable to assist in any way regarding unblocking the flow of referrals, he did say it was worth seeing if Middlegate could be of value to rehabilitate young people with drug, alcohol and substance misuse issues who have entered the criminal-justice system.
We are obviously concerned by the lack of foresight of the NTA. We believe very strongly that it would be better to treat young people before they are forced into the criminal justice system but it appears that current NTA and government policy has more of a punitive outlook.
I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further and extend an invitation to referrers to visit Middlegate
-Caring for Young People
Drug, Alcohol and Substance Misuse Residential Treatment.