A recovering addict has stepped up to try to save what she says is an essential service for substance abusers in Taranaki.
Erina Lauder has started a petition calling for the Taranaki District Health Board to scrap its review of New Plymouth's Step (Short Term Emergency Placement) facility.
The Step facility has been operating for eight years, is run by the TDHB's alcohol and drug services and offers placement for five people who have accepted they need help but need a safe environment for a few weeks as they cope with withdrawal symptoms.
Ms Lauder, who has been clean of alcohol and drugs for seven months, was collecting signatures outside New Plymouth's public library yesterday and was generating a lot of interest.
"It is a service we need to keep in place, it is just a really invaluable service," she said.
Liam Skeath, 17, said he had older friends who had used the facility and was happy to support Ms Lauder's petition to keep it open.
"It helps a lot of people, especially if they have nowhere else to go," Mr Skeath said.
Ms Lauder said she was horrified when she heard about the possible closure.
"The biggest thing that recovering addicts have is hope. When we are using we don't have much hope but when we get clean, hope is the biggest thing that we cling to.
"Step is a safe place to go where you can be kept safe from bad influences."
The facility helped clients access services and gave them the tools they needed to get on with their lives, she said.
"So that we can cope out in society."
A victim of childhood abuse, Ms Lauder, 51, said she was on the streets aged 14 and abusing alcohol and drugs.
"For some of us, we abused substances to overcome the trauma of abuse. For others they don't realise that they have a problem until they start getting into trouble or it starts taking over their lives."
Staff at the facility were totally devoted to helping clients, she said.
"They have worked so hard to keep that place running. These are the people that we can talk to, they've decorated the walls with inspirational sayings and other things to motivate us.
"We learn to live life on life's terms rather than having to self-medicate."
TDHB clinical services manager for mental health and addictions Wendy Langlands said consultation on the future of the Step facility finished yesterday and a decision on its future was expected within a month.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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