Dream comes true

IT has taken 20 years of praying and three years of planning, but Glenreagh's Sherwood Cliffs has finally received permission to build the North Coast's first drug rehabilitation centre for women.

There is no other such centre between Newcastle and Brisbane.

Sherwood Glen will be one of even fewer centres that allow the women, mostly single mothers, to have their children with them while they try to rebuild their lives.

Sherwood Cliffs Drug Rehabilitation Farm and Christian Community, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in January, can look back on almost three decades of rescuing men from lives ruined by dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Sherwood's founders, Jean-Pierre and Honi Reifler, have always wanted to help women as well, but found this needed a separate facility.

"For years we have wanted to start a rehab for women but it could not be on the same site," said Mr Reifler.

"We had a try in the very early days but it was not successful we found people started relationships that neither of them was ready for."

"We get requests from women almost daily so we are very excited that we are finally getting something done.

"Many of these women have been rejected by society and tossed out by their partner often by multiple partners, and they need to re-establish their lives."

In spite of the dire need for the facility, gaining permission to build it has involved three years of surmounting one obstacle after another and a paper trail studded with frustrations.

Along the way the site changed local government areas three times.

Originally in Ulmarra Shire, it became part of Pristine Waters Shire, then came under the jurisdiction of the Clarence Valley Council, while building and environmental legislation also underwent a number of changes.

Like Sherwood Cliffs, the new rehabilitation centre for women, Sherwood Glen, will be built on a country property outside Glenreagh.

The funds to buy the new site came from the sale of a rehabilitation centre in another area which had to close.

Although they do not yet have enough money to build all the facilities they have planned, the Reiflers say there are enough funds in hand to begin construction of the first two-bedroom cabins for residents and the first staff house and to plan for the first residents to come through the doors in 2008.

Mr Reifler said they would be looking for suitable staff as soon as the building work was organised.

Sherwood Glen will eventually include seven self-contained cabins, three staff houses and a multi-purpose building which will incorporate recreation and training facilities for residents.

Honi Reifler is hoping to incorporate training in useful life skills as part of the centre's program Sherwood Cliffs is a registered charity and anyone interested in donating money or providing help with the Sherwood Glen project can contact Jean-Pierre Reifler on 6649 2139.

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