THE boss of a Burton rehabilitation centre and the town’s MP have joined a group bidding to shape the country’s approach to fighting drug and alcohol addiction.
Noreen Oliver, chief executive officer of Burton Addiction Centre (BAC), and Andrew Griffiths, Burton’s Conservative MP, accepted invitations to join a policy working group set up by The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think tank set up by Tory Welfare Secretary and ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Mrs Oliver will chair monthly meetings of the group, which is designed to focus on research and policy analysis before publishing its conclusions prior to the next general election.
“I do feel very pleased to have been invited to join the group,” said Mrs Oliver.
“It’s hugely flattering.
“It’s (partly) because of the work we do in Burton and because we’ve been able to develop a recovery community owned by people in the town and Staffordshire.”
Mr Griffiths, vice-chairman of the parliamentary group on substance misuse, will join Mrs Oliver and other drug experts such as Professor John Strang, of King’s College, London, and Nick Barton, chief executive of Action on Addiction.
“I was thrilled to be asked to join the CSJ’s working group on addiction,” Mr Griffiths told the Mail.
“The CSJ has been instrumental in recent years in helping to formulate policy on social issues such as poverty, addiction and family breakdown, and it is a real privilege to be asked to contribute to their work.”
The MP, Mrs Oliver and their colleagues will examine issues such as access to rehabilitation and the effectiveness of social justice policy.
Alcohol, described by the BAC chief as drugs’ ‘poor cousin’ in terms of the focus of addiction policy, will not be overlooked.
The group, for example, will focus on the effectiveness of the national alcohol strategy and explore women and alcohol, including the world of so-called ‘net curtain drinkers’.
Mrs Oliver’s group will conduct its own research and examine the findings of previous investigations before drawing up its own conclusions.
These will then be used to form part of the CSJ’s ‘Breakthrough Britain Two’ report, a follow-up to its predecessor, Breakthrough Britain.
This report identified five pathways to poverty: family breakdown, serious personal debt, drug and alcohol addiction, educational failure and welfare dependency.