Surviving and thriving: Kaleidoscope at 50

‘It’s down to you guys that people get a chance of a new life.’ Eleanor Conway pauses for a serious moment during a ‘stand-up’ routine that entertained guests at Kaleidoscope Project’s 50-year anniversary celebration.

‘I have huge respect for the organisation – for its values as well as its evidence-based approach,’ added Annette Dale-Perera, in her speech. ‘You have to keep trying, and that’s what Kaleidoscope keep demonstrating. She spoke of her first visit to Kingston, where the charity was pioneering harm reduction through its needle exchange and methadone dispensing service. It was ‘chaotic, busy and noisy’ and ‘a fantastic example of harm reduction and recovery-orientated services’. Most importantly it was a ‘place of sanctuary’ and ‘served a population in need when others had rigid rules to exclude them.’

‘Kaleidoscope has always challenged orthodoxy and provided evidence-based practice, even when this hasn’t been the prevailing zeitgeist,’ she said. ‘You guys have made a difference to thousands of people’s lives.’

‘We haven’t just survived, we’ve grown and flourished – but our commitment to harm reduction hasn’t changed,’ said the charity’s chair Chris Freegard, while CEO Martin Blakebrough thanked the many guests who had supported them in their mission. Surviving and thriving also meant proactively working with police and crime commissioners: ‘Criminal justice is as an important partner for change,’ he said.

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