Faced with a budgetary shortfall, a Salvation Army addictions clinic is looking for more sources of funding to ensure it can stay opened beyond its original three-year mandate.
Fireside Addictions Services has been providing out-patient addictions counselling services for 16 months out of the Cascade Centre on Yale Road.
The clinic is part of a Salvation Army pilot project to replace services formerly provided by its Miracle Valley residential treatment centre. Since opening, Fireside chaplain Bob Rat-cliffe and counsellor Jim Ligertwood said they have opened files for nearly 100 clients.
The program's original budget intended to have fees from clients supplement funding from the Salvation Army. But while Ratcliffe says the clinic has been well-received by clients and others in the community, the fees haven't materialized.
Ratcliffe and Ligertwood-both of whom worked at Miracle Valley prior to its closure-said they've discovered that many addicts are either on the street or working poor facing significant debts.
"Many of our clients . . . have found themselves unable to pay," Ratcliffe said. "We won't turn them away; we'll work with them. We try to operate on a sliding scale that goes down to zero to meet the needs of that individual."
But that's left a hole in Fireside's budget.
Ratcliffe said generous donors have made up part of the shortfall. But the clinic remains in the red, leaving Rat-cliffe and Ligertwood to continue looking for other partners in the community to provide funding and help it continue its work in the future.
"If we can find some means of redressing the financial shortfall, I think there's every reason to believe the program will be continued," Ratcliffe said. "The value of the program is not in question, and the need for the program is not in question. It's just a question of how we're going to sustain it financially going forward."
Fireside doesn't receive any money from the government, which Rat-cliffe said allows it to offer faith-based and 12-step programs and avoid "bureaucratic" policies.
Since opening, programs have shifted to accommodate the preferences of clients, Ligertwood said. The focus is presently on one-on-one meetings, and Fireside has begun using what's called a "community reinforcement approach," which Ligertwood said aims to replace drugs' apparent benefits with healthier, more pro-social activities.
"Treatment centres treat the problem of addiction, and when people are turned loose they find they are bored to death and don't know what to do with their time," Ligertwood said.
He added that he also works on helping clients develop social skills to allow them to reintegrate themselves back into society.
"Addicts typically isolate themselves so getting back in the mainstream is a big problem," he said.