The South Wales Argus covered our first of several Anniversary celebrations throughout 2018:
IT WAS an emotional afternoon at Newport Cathedral yesterday as a packed audience gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of a charity which supports people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues in Gwent.
Starting in a London church, Kaleidoscope is a unique organisation and the amazing work they continue to carry out to help thousands of people in Gwent was highlighted during the event.
The celebration was made even more special by the presence of the Blakebrough family – with the original founders of Kaleidoscope present, including Eric, Mary and Adele Blakebrough.
Martin Blakebrough, the current CEO of Kaleidoscope, said the charity will continue to campaign on issues to ensure people have better access to services.
They will continue to work with other agencies, such as the police – who in many ways have become ambassadors for change, he added.
“We are all in recovery – we all have things we are working on as individuals,” Mr Blakebrough continued. “Because we all want to improve, that is why we are all in recovery.”
Archbishop of Wales John Davies was one of the speakers at the event. He said it was an enormous pleasure to be speaking at the celebrations and, comparing the charity to St Woolos Cathedral, he said Kaleidoscope transforms lives.
He said that, before being ordained, he worked as a solicitor, adding that, in those days, Newport had quite a bad reputation as a centre for the distribution of drugs as it was on the M4.
“One of tragedies was that organisations like Kaleidoscope didn’t exist in this part of the world,” he added. “There was no point in trying to persuade magistrates they [addicts] were sick people.
“The transformation that has taken place in our society is fundamental and very welcome.
“People like this family have been instrumental in making sure the people who need help, get help.”
Head of operations for Gwent Drug and Alcohol Services (GDAS) Sian Chicken said that, when Kaleidoscope first came into Newport in 2003, they were not the most welcome and there was quite a lot of suspicion.
“We were trying to make people like us and trust us,” she said. “I am really passionate about Newport and I wanted to do something special and make a difference.”
Ms Chicken said, in Kaleidoscope, they embrace rehabilitation and, for example, prisoners are given a second chance after being released, with some of them now working for the organisation.
“It is about putting the opportunities in place for people to look at their lives and think it could be different,” she added.
Other speakers in the event included executive director of Release Niamh Eastwood.
This week, the South Wales Argus have been running a series of special features highlighting the work the charity does. Our next feature will be about the Voice Hub, in Newport, and will be in Friday’s paper.