COMMENT - Willow a budget victim

THE sad news that pioneering alcohol recovery organisation The Willow Project will have to close its doors to adult patients highlights one of the consequences of austerity times.

In seeking to achieve value for money and protect against suggestions of wasting taxpayers’ cash, local authorities re-tendering services seem to require financial guarantees independent organisations simply cannot provide, making the take-over of care programmes by large national institutions an inevitability.

It is a disappointing fate for Willow, which has worked hard for 22 years to create an innovative, bespoke women’s service for rehabilitation based on long-term relationships and connections to the local community, only now to be elbowed aside.

The fact that a prestigious European organisation thinks the project good enough to be given funding to run youth counselling programmes only adds to the irritation.

Savings have to be made, but it seems a shame that Wigan organisations only seeking to serve their borough are the ones being sacrificed.