People in Sheffield who are struggling with drugs and alcohol will be able to access free NHS help, support and treatment from experts at the Sheffield Treatment and Recovery Team (START) for at least the next five years.

The START team have been running opiates, non-opiates and alcohol services in the city for a number of years and have been awarded a new contract by Sheffield City Council, that starts on 01 April 2020.

START have two clinics, one based at the Fitzwilliam Centre and the other on Sidney Street. The team is made up of around 100 staff including nurses, drug and alcohol workers, doctors, talking therapists, administration and support workers and social workers. They treat approximately 3,500 people per year.

The services on offer include:

  • Advice and treatment for the use of opiate drugs such as heroin, morphine and codeine, including over the counter and prescribed medications;
  • Advice and treatment for the use of non-opiate drugs such as cannabis, powder cocaine and crack cocaine, amphetamines
  • Specialist ‘Spice’ Clinic, and an Image and Performance Enhancing Drug Use Cinic (also known as the Juice Clinic)
  • Advice and treatment for problematic alcohol use or dependency;
  • Harm reduction advice, needle exchange, wound care, and specialist clinics for people who have physical health problems related to drug use;

A new addition to the contract will see people who are involved with the police, probation services, or who are leaving prison, being supported to reduce their drug related offending, with criminal justice focused interventions delivered alongside their treatment. Approximately 30 staff will ‘TUPE’ over to the START team from Addaction as preparations start for delivering the services from 01 April 2020.

Clive Clarke, Interim Chief Executive at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to be awarded this contract to support some of the most vulnerable people in our city. We are very proud to be part of a system in Sheffield that aims to help people access healthcare where and when they need it, and make sure that healthcare is fair. Part of being fair means that we give people access to non-judgemental services which can help them recover.

“What we offer is a dedicated hub of expertise in Sheffield city centre where we can treat a variety of substance misuse problems. We have an excellent track record of delivering some innovative services, that put people who need help right at the heart of what we do. We look at their lifestyles and design responsive services to meet their needs. The Spice Clinic was one of the first of its kind established in the country, and has already been a huge success, supporting more than 500 people since it opened in 2018.

“For most of our service users, their services will stay the same. People can continue to drop in to the Fitzwilliam Centre and Sidney Street to get help for drugs and alcohol. We offer free, confidential support to anyone aged 18 or over who lives in Sheffield, and people can refer themselves or a loved one to the service. If drinking alcohol is starting to impact on their lives, people can continue to contact the Alcohol Service and the team will help them make changes to their drinking to make improvements.”

Councillor George Lindars-Hammond, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s so important that people in Sheffield can access support for drug and alcohol addiction and the news that this will be continuing throughout the city for at least five more years, is great. Addiction is hard and cruel, but the support on offer is a fantastic first step towards helping people who are affected by substance misuse.

“We want people to know about the many services in Sheffield so that if they or someone they know needs help, they are aware of the many places they can go. All services in Sheffield take self-referrals and are open access, meaning people can walk in and be seen that day.

“We’ve made these services accessible to all and I hope they are used to their full advantage, with people across the city getting the help that they need.”