Hard work pays off for The Junction’s supporters

The future of a north Norfolk support centre for addicts has been secured for the next five years thanks to a �400,000 grant which will also allow it to extend its services.

The Junction, which helps people with drug and alcohol problems from its base in Cromer, has been limping from month to month since its initial funding ran out in September 2009.

Efforts by volunteers and users of the centre managed to bring in some of the �100,000 needed each year to keep it running but left them having to constantly fundraise to plug the gap.

Organisers feared services would have to be slimmed-down.

Now cash from the Big Lottery Fund will ensure The Junction remains open and will even be able to go ahead with plans to extend its reach which were put on hold when the money worries kicked in.

Julian Bryant, chief executive of The Matthew Project which runs the Garden Street centre, said the grant was worth a total of �406,462.

'It means, together with funding from other services, we can keep The Junction going for five years.

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'A year or two ago, we weren't sure what the future would hold. This comes as a great cause for celebration,' he said.

The charity will take on another part-time drugs worker and a part-time administrator to support manager Andy Wicks, who is currently one of just two paid employees.

It will also begin outreach services in North Walsham and Fakenham - something The Junction had been planning since first opening in 2007.

Mr Bryant said: 'We will be providing support groups for people with drug and alcohol problems, one-to-one groups and we hope to enable people to be trained in terms of getting jobs in the future.

'In essence, what we want to do is enable them to stop using drugs and alcohol and equip them for a new life.'

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has been a vocal supporter of The Junction. He said he was 'absolutely thrilled' the centre had secured the money and would be around to help even more of his constituents.

'It's a great organisation. I know the work is vital. They can help turn people around so this funding is immensely good news,' he said.

'The truth is all communities have problems with drug and alcohol abuse or mis-use and the consequences for families, particularly children, are awful.'

Since funding began to dry up for The Junction, volunteers at the centre, alongside those who have benefited from the service and local businesses, have worked tirelessly to keep it going.

Coffee mornings, sponsored walks and even a sky dive have been organised to bring money in.

Mr Bryant said: 'The rest of Cromer and businesses in north Norfolk have been so helpful and supportive. They have joined us in trying to keep The Junction open.

'This is some sort of reward for all their hard work.'