Blackpool rehab charity Jobs, Friends and Houses which was supported by police back on track after financial woes

The original launch of Jobs, Friends and Houses in 2015
The original launch of Jobs, Friends and Houses in 2015
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An organisation set up to rehabilitate ex-offenders which faced collapse is now back on a stable footing.

Community interest company Jobs, Friends and Houses was set up in 2014 to provide life chances for people, many of whom had left prison suffering from substance abuse.

Read more: Lancashire Police and Blackpool Council save failing business Jobs, Friends and Houses

But it over-stretched itself financially and faced an uncertain future in 2017 when staff were made redundant.

Now following intervention by Blackpool Council and its housing company Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH), the company is once more helping people find employment and homes.

John Donnellon, chief executive of BCH, said: "The business model had a lack of commercial expertise and they over-stretched themselves.

"But the core idea has always been good and there was a strong willingness to recognise it had led to good outcomes for many people.

"BCH was asked to sort out the financial situation and we have scaled it back."

An independent board chaired by Judith Mills from the council's public health team and made up of members of the business and volunteer sector has been set up.

There are currently four recovery houses accommodating up to six people who must have proved they are in recovery and no longer addicted to drink or drugs.

The council hopes to purchase two further properties which would be funded through rental income.

Residents are also given peer support and access to training and employment opportunities with the scheme supported by a three-year Lottery grant.

BCH tenant Ben is among those who have benefited from the new programme.

Ben, 30, received help from Jobs, Friends and Houses and through BCH initiative More Positive Together (MPT).

He recalls how his life was "chaotic" due to substance misuse, but after overcoming his addiction and getting support through MPT, he now shares a council home with his girlfriend.

He said: "I have made a life for myself and got myself a job, and I'm starting to live again."

Mr Donnellon added: "One of the main reasons the scheme works is that it is self-supporting, with residents taking part in sports, camping and volunteering together.

"Having positive activities going on has made a real difference, and even former residents who have moved on to independent living still go back to be part of it socially."

In 2017 10 staff lost their jobs and now there are just two employees.

Jobs, Friends and Houses had been supported by Lancashire Police which gave it £200,000 in 2017, while Blackpool Council contributed a loan of £100,000.

In 2016 it received a grant of £499,114 from the National Lottery.