Leeds & West Yorkshire

Coronavirus: Addicts 'more vulnerable' because of lockdown

Jonny accessing help from the charity
Image caption Social distancing rules are in place to enable the charity to provide food

People with drug and alcohol dependency could be left even more vulnerable as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a charity fears.

Addiction charity Project Six, based in Keighley, normally provides face-to face-help, but has made big changes to continue supporting those in need.

Vicki Beere, chief executive officer, said: "The worst thing for someone in recovery is isolation."

Hot food is being given out and online support groups are being held.

Jonny, a recovering heroin addict, described the charity as his lifeline.

He said: "I understand saying 'self-isolate', but [imagine] self-isolating in a boarded-up flat with no TV.

"If you're on the bottom line and you've got nothing, then it's really hard. If [the charity] weren't here to give me a sandwich or a coffee, then it would be a very dark day for me."

Image caption There could be a rise in referrals because of people's anxieties, Vicki Beere said

Ms Beere said it had been a "mammoth challenge" to turn around its digital strategy within days to continue providing help.

She said: "The people we are working with here were left behind before, and there's a risk that they will be really, really left behind.

"This isn't just a health crisis, it's a social crisis."

Ms Beere added: "It's vital for those in recovery to keep that human contact. If we weren't doing that then no-one would be checking in on these guys."

She feared there would be a rise in the number of referrals because of people's heightened anxieties.

"Alcohol sales have risen nationally, and it's a real concern for us that people could be sat at home frightened by what's going on.

"Our doors may be physically closed but we are very much open for those who need help."

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