Kingston church reopens Safe and Sound Alcohol Recovery Centre during Christmas period

Kingston’s Everyday Church has announced that it will again host a Safe and Sound Recovery Centre this Christmas, following the scheme’s success last year.

The Safe and Sound Recovery Centre is aimed at people who overindulge over the festive period and need a safe place to sober up.

The centre will be open every Friday and Saturday night until Christmas as well as New Year’s Eve from 10pm to 5am.

Akhtar Shah, 38, pastor of Everyday Church in Union Road, said that they would have ambulance staff working on those who need medical attention in a separate room, but that anyone can relax in the church hall.

Shah said: “We are open to anyone who’d rather be in here than out there”.

He said that people would be able to play video games, table tennis or watch movies, and that last year a man came to sing Christmas carols.

People can enter voluntarily or will be sent to the centre by street pastors or security guards at pubs and nightclubs.

Shah said that the initiative has contributed to increasing town safety, lowering crime and freeing up beds at Kingston Hospital A&E.

Last year the ambulance staff treated 64 people suffering from overconsumption, whilst over 350 people came to visit the centre.

“We have not experienced any trouble,” he said, explaining that the centre is a safe place to be both because of the presence of ambulance staff and trained volunteers.

The ambulance staff is funded by Kingstonfirst and the local business community, while the church volunteers are funded by the church itself.

Kingston Borough Commander Glenn Tunstall said on the Metropolitan Police website: “Last year I personally witnessed the positive impact this had on vulnerable people within our night time economy, but additional benefits come from the reduction on police and London Ambulance Service as a result of this facility being located in the heart of the town.”

Pastor Shah, who is also a social worker, has worked at the church since they started up around Easter in 2013.

He said: “We just want the centre to be useful.”

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