Stranger on the shore
DHC has just given an award of £20k to Bosence Farm www.bosencefarm.com – Cornwall’s leading centre for residential substance misuse which is registered with the Care Quality Commission which is tucked away in Cornwall’s far south west between Camborne and Penzance. The former farm, within its own extensive grounds and woodland, supports young people and adults with severe psychological and medical problems associated with drug and alcohol use.
‘I’ve been using substances since I was 13 and at 38 years old now I never believed I could be free of drugs… after 6 weeks I’m free of drugs…this is a huge achievement for me…’
The early years
You will probably remember this haunting melody played by traditional jazz star Acker Bilk but you will not necessarily link the name Bosence with Bilk! It was in 1995 that brother, Dave Bilk, who worked for Penwith Housing Association, recognised the need to help alcoholics and had one year to find the money to buy a dilapidated Cornish Longhouse and begin to repair and convert it to bedrooms and public spaces so that peer support groups could run a 12 step rehabilitation programme, as a subsidiary to Penwith Housing Concern.
At the time a home-stay was around 18 months. Many of the clients were destitute, with multiple health issues, who had reached ‘the end of the line’ and it would appear that seaside locations in the south of Britain tend to attract those with nowhere else to go – the climate is perceived to be kinder to street homeless; hence the link to shoreline strangers!
It quickly became too big for the Association to run and realised that it had to stand on its own to serve the fast growing numbers of male and female clients seeking help. The only comparable centre is at Addaction Chy in Truro www.adaction.org.uk/services/adaction-truro which has 17 beds but offers rehab only (no medical detox). Service users from both the county’s two rehab services share access to Addaction’s ‘move on’ accommodation in Truro, for those completing residential rehabilitation.
DHC’s first support
6 years ago our charity gave a grant to begin a volunteers’ programme using the services of ‘Unlocking Cornish Potential’ to put processes in place to deliver professional training. Since then one of the volunteers has become a paid staff member running this programme and others are in graduate training.
The site allows for many leisure and sports activities – over the 18 acres there are trails, opportunities for horticulture crafts and art programmes and of course educational development.
Today’s clients, on average, spend 3 months at Bosence such is the success of the intense rehabilitation programmes, with both adult services costing around £1m to run each year. Management is lean with Kate as the CEO, a Service Manager, a new part-time financial controller, a small nursing team, councillor and support workers.
A unique offer
Recently a 13 week programme, written by the UK’s leading expert, Phil Harris has been introduced for 16-18 year olds (the first of its kind) to address severe behavioural issues. There are 4 shared bedrooms in the new unit, so the service can take up to 8 Boys for one intake, before the service switches to female only so that up to 8 girls can begin their stay. They are subject to professional referral, pre-admission assessment and preparation process.
‘ I gained the tools and strength to be confident and have faith in myself to sustain the drug free, happy and enjoyable life-style I have rediscovered’.
Most patients are state funded but this is a small and shrinking pot. To this end Kate’s vision is to be available to all so it is anticipated that more private funded patients will be coming to Bosence.
Over the years the clients themselves have been improving the premises, converting outbuildings and other areas but the estate always needs financial support to maintain and develop what has now become a national role model.
Last year the old fashioned central heating was replaced with the help of private funding and today DHC is helping replace all the old windows and main doors so that better ventilation with modern double glazing will improve the clients’ environments. Where algal growth spoilt an otherwise well- kept and decorated room that clearly reflects the pride each client takes in their personal space, there will be controlled air vents built into the frames and doors which will no longer let draughts into lobbies and public spaces.
The funding will even allow for a conservatory that links two key areas together, undercover, and will provide additional space in which to encourage people to start to engage with the outside during recovery and gather in a pleasant light space.
The photographs show what Bosence looked like in spring 2018 – soon, before next winter arrives, you will see the results of the building and maintenance programme for yourselves in a future news item.
Woodland and open space, wild flowers and opportunities for horticulture a perfect environment
Out with old draughty doors and windows – in with double glazing and tight fitting frames
You may also be interested to read about further developments on the site that truly demonstrates how special this place is – see the above website.
‘I really do 100% think I’d be in prison or dead if I’d not come here. It was the best choice I’ve made in years…the staff made me believe in myself, picked me up when I was down and kept me going’