Kaleidoscope was founded in 1968 by the Rev Eric Blakebrough. The early history is recorded in the book ‘No Quick Fix‘ by Eric, which is available for £2 from our central office.
The Kaleidoscope was a Friday Club opening at 10pm until 6am. The aim was to provide a safe place for young people to attend after the pubs closed at 11pm. In Kingston there was a major problem of fights taking place in the town centre once the pubs shut. The name ‘Kaleidoscope’ came from the diversity of young people coming together, be they mods, rockers, teddy boys, hippies or Hells Angels they were welcome at the Kaleidoscope.
The services Kaleidoscope developed came out of the needs of the young people. The hostel was born out of a disused church house. It was extremely basic, including the need for residents and staff to fill up the bath using buckets of water.
In the late 1960s sex and drugs were at the height of fashion. The question was how to protect people. Kaleidoscope responded by organising a clinic for those attending the club. The clinic was held in the Minister’s office where either advice or treatment was provided.
The services of Kaleidoscope grew in popularity and it became necessary to provide services to a broader range of people who were not necessarily members of the club. B y 1975 a new building had been designed and in 1977 the red brick church, hostel and club were opened. As a drug service Kaleidoscope was fairly unique in adopting a Harm Reduction approach to its work. Methadone was used to enable people to stabilise their drug use. By 1986 Kaleidoscope also introduced the first needle syringe exchange in the UK and was developing the first methadone dispensing service. The key to Kaleidoscope drug services was that clients did not need to wait to get into treatment.
In the 1990s Kaleidoscope was providing support to emerging drug services in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Asia. Our work in India and Nepal was particularly significant with the first needle syringe exchange set up in Calcutta and a methadone dispensing service in Kathmandu.
The millennium proved another dramatic change for Kaleidoscope. In 2002 we were approached to start a new service in Newport. Up to this point Kaleidoscope had only operated in Kingston although it had supported, through training and advice, a number of drug services nationally and globally.
Although based in Newport the service was to support anyone in the Gwent area. The success of the project meant that within 3 months over 100 people were in treatment and within a year 500.
Kaleidoscope has now established itself as a major substance misuse service in South Wales. There are now services along the M4 corridor from Chepstow to Carmarthen. As an organisation with a proud history we continue to seek ways of supporting people with the best evidenced approaches.
The size of the service meant led to Kaleidoscope becoming an independent charity in 2007.
In July 2016, we effectively acquired another substance misuse provider – Arch Initiatives.
In essence, Arch remains in existence, but Kaleidoscope is now the sole member of the Arch Initiatives Board, with four of our Kaleidoscope Trustees assuming Trusteeship of Arch Initiatives.
This is really exciting news for Kaleidoscope and gives us Pan Wales contracts with additional contracts in Shropshire, Bradford, Bolton and a 20 bed in-patient unit in the Wirral.
For an account of our history watch the videos provided, featuring our founder Rev Eric Blakebrough and Gareth David Lloyd of Torchwood fame.