East End detox centre opens door to reveal how it saves thousands

A small, dedicated team has been quietly saving thousands of men and women from a life of drink and drugs—and death—in a secluded back street in London’s East End. They lost count of the numbers after the first 10,000.

But the work by the medically-qualified staff continues at the Salvation Army’s Greig House detox centre in Limehouse.

Nurse Julie Baxter was examining recovering heroin addict Terry’s blood pressure today (Mon) when MP Jim Fitzpatrick looked in.

Terry is on a three-week intensive detox course before being moved on to the Riverside rehab centre at the complex to begin his journey back into society.

“We are here to help—we’re not judgemental,” nurse Baxter insists.


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“These are sensitive people who have just got overwhelmed by day-to-day life and can’t cope with the pressure—so they have fallen into alcohol and drugs for whatever reason.”

The Poplar & Limehouse MP arrived to see how addicts and alcoholics are being treated and meet staff at the centre’s ‘open day’ to mark its 11th anniversary.

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The centre is strapped for cash, the MP is told. It costs �1,150 a week treating alcoholics and �1,625 for drug addicts.

Clinic manager Rita Woolridge explains: “We operate a ‘zero’ budget and only charge local authorities who refer people here exactly what the treatment costs.

“But we’ve been asked to keep fees the same as last year because the local authorities face cuts themselves.”

The centre sees itself as more appropriate than hospital for treatment, with its quiet privacy, tucked away behind West Ferry DLR station where those seeking help find the space to gain confidence to rebuild their lives. It even has lawn tennis therapy.

“The key issue is that something has happened in their lives,” Rita adds. “There is a reason why people turn to alcohol or drugs.

“Some have faced abuse in their childhood. We also get ex-servicemen with post-traumatic stress who didn’t have psychiatric help at the time, so they ‘self-medicate’ with drink or drugs.”

The MP is impressed. He sees the work as a challenge to society and wants the Government to put emphasis on detox programmes and centres like Limehouse—rather than prioritise building new prisons.

It is a powerful argument when you watch the Salvation Army help the fallen back to salvation with a helping hands and guiding light—without judgement.

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