Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

Rethink and Remember

Our News in Brief

Rethink and Remember

29th August 2014
Rethink and Remember is the theme of this year's International Overdose Awareness Day.

Held on 31st August each year, this day is centered around prevention and remembrance and aims to both raise awareness of overdose and also acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends of those who have lost their lives or suffered permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

It is estimated that globally there were 183,000 drug-related deaths in 2012,[1] with nearly twice as many people dying due to overdose in the UK than road accidents.[2] Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented if people received clear information about the risk factors surrounding drug use and had better access to support services.

At Caritas Anchor House, around 30% of our current homeless residents are undergoing treatment for drug and alcohol use, often while dealing with other problems relating to mental health, domestic violence or crime. To ensure they get the support they need, we work in partnership with alcohol and substance misuse agencies to provide specialist services and have a dedicated complex needs team.

"As many of the individuals we work with have drug and alcohol issues, we offer harm minimisation advice to ensure residents understand the risks of overdose," said Sian, Substance Misuse Lead at Caritas Anchor House. "This is especially vital for those with history of using substances such as heroin who have had a period of abstinence and may be at risk of relapse and overdose. We use learning materials and talk to individuals 1:1 to make sure they understands the risks and can take control of their recovery. These discussions can save lives."

One of those that the complex needs team helps is Harry, who turned to drugs after his step-father passed away and he was left to support his mother alone. As his drug use worsened, Harry became increasingly depressed and spent time in mental health units. With his life appearing to spiral out of control, he began a two year period of sofa surfing and living on the streets.

Since arriving at Caritas Anchor House last year however, his outlook has completely changed. Harry has taken advantage of the support on offer, attending courses on healthy cooking and confidence building, and regularly engages with a local substance misuse agency.

“I wasn't in a good place before I came here, but the support I've received has been outstanding. I'm proud to say that I'm now in recovery and I can't thank my Lifestyle Architect enough for all he's done for me. Finally my confidence is on the up and I'm looking forward to the future.”

To support our work, and ensure we can help more people like Harry, please text HOPE to 70300 to give just £3 or donate online via JustGiving here.

For more information about our services please email

Further information

Visit to find out more or download the App to learn how to recognise the signs of an overdose and what to do. If you know someone who died or was injured due to an overdose, please feel free to post a tribute here.

[1]Source: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2014 World Drug Report.

[2]Source:;; and

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