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The ex-offenders tackling substance abuse in seaside towns

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A project in the Meridian region is looking to tackle the problem of high rates of drug and alcohol abuse in seaside towns more effectively.

A group called Reformed East Sussex are drawing on their own experiences of crime and addiction to help others build a brighter future.

Overcoming substance abuse is a journey the group's CEO, Charmaine Sewell, has successfully made herself.

She says "There's a lot of people that want to change and want to make something of their lives. None of us wake up and think 'I'm going to be a criminal'. It's due to circumstances, addiction or environment."

She's now helping other ex-offenders through the project.

Since it was set up in 2015, Reformed East Sussex has helped almost 600 people with education, training, and employment, however funding is an ongoing challenge.

On Monday 24th June, the Police and Crime Commissioner awarded the project £15,000 to help it continue its groundbreaking work.

Katy Bourne, Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner says: "They're going to be working with men and women and helping them find somewhere to live, helping them train to get new jobs, and that's really important that they then integrate back into society and become regular citizens like everyone else. That also prevents re-offending and prevents future victims."

Reformed East Sussex is not a charity, but a Community Interest Company.

Taking a proactive approach to securing its own future, it has set up a cleaning business next door to its offices.

It employs ex-offenders, and ploughs all the profits back into its rehabilitation work.

  • Watch Malcolm Shaw's report below