North East Wales

Rhyl parishioners pay for woman's drugs rehabilitation

Parishioners at a Denbighshire church are raising £240 a month to pay for the rehabilitation of a woman trying to get off drugs.

Wellspring Christian Centre in Rhyl made the call to members during a service when it emerged the woman, who had become a regular worshipper, wanted help.

Pastor Mike Bettaney said he was overwhelmed by parishioners' support.

A police officer leading a project to cut reoffending has also paid tribute.

Mr Bettaney said the woman had started to use the church as it is hired for other community events.

She later became a member of the congregation and it then emerged she was a heroin addict.

During one service the pastor asked the congregation if they would consider helping the woman and the congregation - made up of 70-80 members - started to offer cash, with monthly pledges ranging between £1 and £25.

"They have all taken her to heart," he said. "There was a queue to the door. It was a deeply moving service."

Pilot scheme

The woman started her 12-month rehabilitation programme seven weeks ago at a Christian faith-based charity, Teen Challenge UK, in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, which helps people overcome drugs.

Mr Bettaney said the woman was determined to make the scheme work.

Now his church wants to help other people and is trying to identify training so they are better equipped.

The pastor said the group was in no doubt that drug users could be manipulative as they "survive by lies".

But he added that his church group "reach out to anyone" who wants or needs help.

Sgt Jonny Hill, from North Wales Police, described the help of the congregation as "excellent", adding: "They can see the benefit for society".

He is the unit leader of a pilot scheme - 8Ways: Change your Life - which works with offenders who persistently cause damage and nuisance to the community.

His Colwyn Bay-based team include probation and drug and alcohol workers addressing the issues which cause people to repeat offend.

Sgt Hill said statistics from research shows the average offender was aged 26, a white male, who commits five crimes a year, is arrested seven times and effectively costs society £9,500 a year.

The team is hoping to reverse the trend by offering the offenders help with issues that cause them to reoffend, such as drugs and alcoholism or problems associated with anything from housing, debt, or mental and physical health issues.

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