Council wont fund conference expenses

Chesterfield alcoholics support group for feature Gary Topley
Chesterfield alcoholics support group for feature Gary Topley

THE leader of an independent alcohol support group has condemned a council decision not to fund his expenses to attend a conference.

Gary Topley, who runs the Chesterfield Free From Addiction project, asked the Derbyshire Drug and Alcohol Team DAAT for £500 to cover a three-night stay in London, so he can attend the UK and European Symposium on Addictive Disorders, in May.

But DAAT – who are run by Derbyshire County Council – have said such funding is not offered by the group.

Gary, a former volunteer with DAAT, said: “I am going to the conference so I can bring back information and use it to benefit people of Chesterfield, and the UK. I think it is in the public interest - I am helping people with their addictions.”

He added: “I don’t think my request is unreasonable, but this organisation which is meant to help with addictions does not want to. If I don’t get this one-off request I will have to take it out of group funds, but that takes money away from the people who attend the sessions.”

But a spokesperson for the council said they have offered Gary alternative ways to source funding.

She said: “We’ve worked closely with Gary in the past and he recently approached DAAT - Derbyshire’s drug and alcohol partnership - based at County Hall for £500 to attend a course in London to support the work of his own self-help group.

“As a county council we don’t award this kind of funding directly to individuals but through the partnership put Gary in touch with a countywide service we contribute to which can offer financial support for substance abuse self-help services like his. We hope he is successful and wish him well.”

Gary has now set up an online petition against the decision, which currently has 94 signatures and can be viewed at

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