10/12/2014 11:09 GMT | Updated 08/02/2015 05:59 GMT

A Bridge To San Patrignano


San Patrignano is the most successful drug rehabilitation community in the world with an impressive 72% success rate. Situated near Rimini in Italy, there are over 1,300 residents currently residing there from 28 countries around the world. I have been involved with San Patrignano ever since I walked through the gates as a visitor over 6 years ago now and 2 years ago I set up the San Patrignano UK Association. There are over 30 Associations in Italy, 1 in the States, 1 in Croatia and now our Association here in London.

Our main purpose is to support anyone in the UK who is dependent on drugs and who wants to enter the community in Italy. To date we have helped 5 UK residents to get there all of them now safe within the community and doing well. The second function of the Association is to assist residents who are finishing at San Patrignano and who are looking to come to the UK to work. To date we have helped over 30 people come to the UK. Most of them are working in hospitality, however, there are 52 different skills that the residents can learn at San Patrignano so we are now looking at providing other opportunities for the residents of the community as well.

By far the most rewarding aspect of this work is the fact that I get to know and befriend the families of the UK residents who we have helped enter the community. Most of them have struggled for many years to get their children the help and support that they needed and it is comforting for them to know that their children are thriving in the community.

Recently we held an afternoon tea for the parents of the UK together with some of the ex residents who are here in the UK. It was a very moving occasion as the parents have also befriended the ex residents who were in the community with their children. We may be small but with the help of the parents and the ex residents we are building a solid foundation to ensure that there is a continual flow of UK residents entering San Patrignano.

I want to send my heartfelt thanks to the parents who are a part of our Association, their generosity of spirit and support never ceases to amaze me. Recently they held an afternoon tea of their own to raise money to support new families of the UK residents entering the community. These remarkable people are paving the way for our Association to grow and reach more people in this country who are dependent on drugs and for this I am forever grateful.

Do you know anyone who is dependent on drugs and who is wanting to enter a long term residential and free community? If so please feel free to contact us. We are also working closely and supporting the IF charity in Scotland. Our friends there are starting a residential drug rehabilitation community based on the same principles as San Patrignano.