The Frank Cohen Centre in Moston is the only alcohol support centre in Manchester to deal solely and specifically with alcoholism.

Group member Gary Wilkinson has written about the group in his own words. Gary is pictured here with Brian, the Chairman of The Cohen Centre.

“The Frank Cohen Centre was set up in its present form on Moston Lane, Moston, in 1997 as a place to go for alcoholics at any stage of recovery, from the person who may think she/he has got a drink problem and would like some general advice, through to alcoholics with 20+ years of non-drinking behind them, and every stage in between. Alcoholism is an isolating, shame-inducing illness which devastates not only the alcoholic but also their friends and family.

“Over the past 20 years ‘The Cohen’ as it is mostly referred to has evolved into a uniquely placed centre for anyone – alcoholic, friend or family of alcoholic – to visit, to talk about how issues of alcoholism are affecting them as individuals and to seek out solutions to these problems. It is now the only alcohol support centre in Manchester to deal solely and specifically with alcoholism. It is based on a street in Manchester which has become notorious for its association with the highest number of retail outlets for alcohol sales in the city, and is in an area which is unfortunately also known for its pockets of deprivation.

“Fortunately the people of the area and those involved in the centre are also some of the warmest, kindest and most giving people you are likely to meet; the area and its people mean something to them, and ‘The Cohen’ is not anti-alcohol, ironically it is opposite a pub and next door to an undertakers (an appreciation of dark humour is essential for an alcoholic!).

“What it provides is support, advice, a laugh and some fun whilst its visitors plot a course through surviving alcoholism. On a practical level it has links with all of the major social organisations, such as the community alcohol team (MIDAS), mental health agencies and advice support services. It encourages participation in local charity work and builds a bridge to normal life for anyone suffering. Just as importantly it provides food, tea, coffee and a listening ear from fellow alcoholics who have survived.

“My own story is that 20 years ago I was sat in the pub across the road taking the mickey out of my mates, telling them that they were going to end up needing ‘The Cohen’. Little did I know that the next 20 years of my life would become a tragi-comedy of epic proportions leading to near death, psychosis and insanity. Four years ago I met Brian (the Chairman). I am now 3 years and 6 months sober. That journey has also been a tragi-comedy of epic proportions, but it’s also been pretty glorious.

“Forever Manchester’s support has been invaluable to ‘The Cohen’, not just in terms of the visibility of the centre and the upgrading of the building, but also with the help in reaching new people through events and the training that has been offered. The benefits, however, are far more than cosmetic, there is a buzz of pride in the centre and the new surroundings, we cannot thank Forever Manchester enough for their support.

“My name is Gary Wilkinson. I am an alcoholic.”