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Blenheim Project
The Blenheim Project's Laraine Start, Brendan McGrath and Sarah Cahn.

The Blenheim Project - 50 Years

The Blenheim Project was founded in 1964 and has been helping people with drug and alcohol problems in and around Golborne and across London for the last 50 years. Golborne Life went to meet some key members of staff to find out more.

The Blenheim Project now has two operations in Golborne, the Insight KC project in a shop premises at 51, Golborne Road and the KC North Hub project at 1, East Row.

KC Insight manager Sarah Cahn, who has been with the Blenheim for 24 years, describes the services on offer her project, "We work with people aged from 12 to 25 who have problems in their lives, often related to cannabis or alcohol use. At any one time, we're seeing around 120 young people, about 40 of whom we'll be working with intensively. What we often find is that the young people who come to us have other underlying problems.

"We work in a holistic way and can offer help with a wide range of things including housing, health and general well-being," continues Sarah. "As well as counselling and mentoring, we organise activities such as gym sessions, football or climbing at the Westway. We have discussion sessions and communal meals for young people, many of whom rarely ever sit at a meal table in a social way.

"Our aim is to give young people confidence and to show them that they can achieve goals. We use volunteer adults, and that can be really helpful as many of the young people have not previously had positive relationships with adults."

Brendan McGrath is Area Manager, with responsibility for both the Insight KC and North Hub projects. "We have a broad range of services at the North Hub aimed at people over 18 with drug and alcohol problems, including NHS doctors and nurses who can provide health care and advice. We have around 220 clients and each one is assigned a key worker. We also use a lot of external support from other agencies, which means that we can offer help with almost any problem.

"Our aim is to help people become drug and alcohol free, which is the outcome for the many of our clients. For others, we help them towards stability and improved quality of life, or into rehab. We offer a range of treatment programmes such as Narcotics Anonymous groups and cognitive behavioural therapy. We also give clients the chance to take part in arts activities and sports such as swimming and badminton. We work closely with our clients to plan the best way of offering individually-tailored help.

"We have around 15 positive outcomes every month where a client either becomes completely drug or alcohol free, achieves a better, more stable lifestyle or goes into a treatment programme."

Laraine Start is the Blenheim's Community Engagement Manager and she's been working with the project for 14 years. She runs the education, training and employment programme which helps clients towards a more purposeful life. She has around 85 clients on the books and offers everything from numeracy and literacy courses to personal development and help with finding work.

Laraine is a living example of how important volunteers from the community are to the work of the Blenheim Project. "I started her as a client, Laraine says, "then went on to become a volunteer before actually becoming an employee of the project. In fact, out of 24 staff, 14 of us started out as volunteers.

"We're always looking for volunteers and whatever your background, we'll find a way you can contribute to our work. You can take on different levels of commitment from quite informal right through to actually joining training programmes that can lead to qualifications and employment. Get in touch with us if you'd like to volunteer and we can guarantee a friendly welcome!"

The Blenheim Project is always looking for volunteers from every walk of life. Get in touch to find out more by calling 020 8962 9932 or emailing etenorthhub@blenheimcdp.org.

The Blenheim Project website

Insight KC
51 Golborne Road
London, W10 5NR
Tel: 020 8960 5510
Email: a.makvandi@blenheimcdp.org.uk

KC North Hub
1 East Row
London, W10 5AR
Tel: 020 8960 5599
Email: nkcdas@blenheimcdp.org.uk