On the whole by any reasonable measure Ashford is a prosperous town set in the middle of a generally prosperous county. But we should all be aware that even in the middle of this generally comfortable existence live people with real problems.
I was reminded of how we need to help these people by a visit to the charity Turning Point in their Ashford office. Turning Point provides advice and support to those who are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction problems, and I met workers from their various Kent offices. As well as Ashford it operates from Canterbury, Dover, Margate and Sittingbourne, with satellite operations in more sparsely populated areas such as Sheppey and Romney Marsh.
Turning Point does much of its work through peer mentors—in other words people who have conquered their own addiction, often after many years, and are now prepared to put their own terrible experience at the service of others to help straighten them out.
There is sadly a constant stream of those needing help. Some are alcoholics who have found gradually that what started as normal social drinking has become out of control. Others, often younger people, started on the soft end of illegal drugs but became addicted to harder substances and destroyed their lives.
One point strongly made by the peer mentors was that background or intelligence can be no defence. Articulate and successful people can be prey to addictions. Indeed one of the messages Turning Point is keen to send out is that contacting them should in no way be a matter for shame. They are conscious that many people will not want to be associated with helpless down-and-outs, and so will deny themselves the help that is available.
The work done by Turning Point is necessary and valuable, and anyone who might need them should not hesitate to get in touch.