Via is proud to announce that it is launching a new and exciting joint venture with UK private investment company, Amitis Group, to take over treatment provision at Awakn Clinics London.
Awakn Life Sciences Corp (Awakn) is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing therapeutics to treat addiction with a near-term focus on alcohol use disorder. In addition to research and development (R&D), Awakn operates a healthcare services business unit with clinics in the UK and Norway.
Awakn recently announced that it will be exiting from healthcare service delivery to focus solely on biotechnology R&D.
Following Awakn’s restructure, Via’s joint venture with Amitis Group has acquired Awakn London Limited, a central London clinic trading as Awakn Clinics London. Via is now leading all treatments and therapies at the Awakn Clinics London with implementation starting from 5 July 2023.
The ground-breaking treatments involve the use of ketamine, in a controlled and supervised setting as part of a range of psychotherapy sessions, to help people access and process difficult emotions and experiences. It has shown positive results in managing a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and alcohol relapse prevention.
Anna Whitton, CEO of Via said: “This is an incredible opportunity for Via to be at the cutting-edge of new therapeutic treatments and is a significant step forward in the potential to bring these treatments into the mainstream, with a view to facilitate access to people most in need. We’re excited about this partnership, the opportunity to continue engaging with the innovation, impact and research journey, and also collaborating with partners and colleagues in the drug and alcohol sector.”
Dr Arun Dhandayudham, Executive Medical Director at Via and Chief Medical Officer at Awakn added: ‘Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a significant development in the field of mental health and addictions treatment, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. As medical professionals, it’s our responsibility to ensure that people have access to the most effective and safe treatments available. We look forward to expanding the availability of this treatment and to continue to research its potential benefits and risks. This treatment has shown promising results in clinical trials and offers hope to those who have not found relief from traditional therapies. I’m very confident that bringing Awakn Clinics London under the Via umbrella will be a powerful way to drive this treatment forward and give so many people fresh hope.”
Roz Gittins, Director of Care Standards and Practice Improvement at Via and a member of Drug Science’s Medical Psychedelic Working Group commented: “This is a really exciting time for Via to be leading the way on the use of medical psychedelics in clinical practice. I’m looking forward to support leading on this joint venture to enable greater access and improved research in the management of mental health conditions.”
Dr Rachel Britton, Clinical Lead at Via and Consultant Pharmacist at Awakn said: “I’m joining Via at an exciting time as we look to bring psychedelic medicine towards the mainstream. I’ve been fortunate to work with Awakn from the very beginning, establishing the first clinic of its kind in the UK. I look forward to working with the staff teams to build momentum and offer an alternative where existing therapies have failed.”
Anthony Tennyson, CEO of Awakn Life Sciences Corp. stated: “When we launched the first clinic in the UK, our goal was to be able to provide greater access to medicine to those in need. We are happy to transition Awakn Clinics London to Via, allowing us to focus on our efforts on research and development of therapeutics to treat addiction, especially our phase 3 trial of Ketamine assisted therapy for alcohol relapse prevention, where we are working with ten NHS trusts and the University of Exeter under a NIHR grant, with a goal to have the treatment available throughout the NHS. We look forward working closely with Via to gather additional real world evidence to support our ongoing research.”
Adam Feldheim, Partner at Amitis Group stated: ‘’We are extremely happy to invest and partner alongside Via in this new venture. Via is a leader in providing addiction and mental health care in the UK and we are looking forward to working closely with them in bringing their expertise and standards of care to this new frontier.’’
About Awakn Life Sciences Corp.
Awakn Life Sciences Corp. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing therapeutics targeting addiction. Awakn has a near-term focus on Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), a condition affecting 285m people globally for which the current standard of care is inadequate. Our goal is to provide breakthrough therapeutics to addiction sufferers in desperate need and our strategy is focused on commercializing our R&D pipeline across multiple channels.
About Amitis Group
Amitis Goup is a ‘New Frontier Sustainable Wellness’ investment group with a philosophy that emphasises data-backed, clinically validated and under-funded solutions that prioritise human health. The goal of Amitis is to support and accelerate the development of the healthcare system of the future, prioritising preventative care, health optimisation and forward looking sustainable outcomes.
Anna Whitton, CEO of Via shares the story of our name and brand change and a look at what’s next in our journey.
This year WDP (Westminster Drug Project) turns 30 and, at this milestone, we’re also changing our name.
For people who know us and what we do, the decision to make this change will probably make sense. We aren’t a drugs project in Westminster anymore, and haven’t been for some time. Our services are now delivered in lots of different areas across England. These services also now include young peoples’ services and IPS services, for example, as well as the integrated community and residential drug and alcohol services that people know us best for. So our growth and development have led us to a really positive point where we’ve outgrown our original name.
In saying this, changing the name of an organisation is a big decision and finding a new name is not easy. Because of that, we invested time in listening to what people had to say about who we are, how we do things and what makes us different. We wanted to know what people really thought about our name and brand, both now and with an eye on future changes and developments.
Asha & Co led this piece of work for us and spent time with people who use our services, those who work and volunteer for us, and commissioners who know us well – along with those who don’t. They conducted one-to-one and small group interviews to explore in detail perspectives from a diverse group of people across a number of different roles, as well as undertaking broader research, review and reflection work.
The feedback from this initial phase was really clear and consistent. People told us that they wanted a name that was more discreet, that was simple, clear and not tied to any particular geography or substance. Importantly, they also told us to reflect our humility in our name and brand, that the work we do is inspiring, but that claiming this in a name can be off-putting and doesn’t really reflect the way in which we already communicate. So, the task for any new name and brand was not a simple one and came with many requirements, including not losing the legacy of the last 30 years and our development over time.
Our new name and brand were developed by Asha & Co, utilising the research they had undertaken, and the strong perspectives communicated from many different voices. Critically, while our senior team and board of trustees have known about the new name and brand for several months now, other than participating in the final approval process, our influence over its development was no more significant than anyone else who contributed to the original research phase. This was important to us – we wanted a name and brand that really reflected who we are, not what I or we as the ‘senior team’ thought it should be.
Our new name is Via.
Via reflects that we are part of a journey, that everyone’s journey is different, and that we work with people along their individual route. Our logo reflects that too. You’ll see that it changes, signalling the different paths that people take and choices that can be made.
You’ll also see that our logo is black and white. It is clear, simple and easy to recognise in its different forms. It changes as you click through our new website and on our different service materials, but it is very clearly us.
The colour in our brand comes from photography. That photography reflects the real world, not a perfect world. Our headline photographs purposefully don’t include faces, as we think that can feel limiting or excluding and so instead the images reflect moments, beauty in the everyday and people connected to the world that they live in. In effect, real life and lived experiences.
The way that we’re using photography means that over the next 12 months we want to move to a position where all of our headline photographs are taken by the people who use our services, or who work or volunteer for us. We want to have a brand that can really feel owned by those who are central to what we do. That’s something we’re really excited by and I hadn’t anticipated that a change of name could bring such compelling opportunities to connect our work.
The new name and brand also support changes across our service premises. We aren’t just changing the external signage but are taking the time to enhance our internal spaces too. Many already have murals that have been co-developed with people who use our services, so we’ve thought carefully about how the new brand works with those spaces and we’re excited about how it all comes together to support safe, welcoming and positive service environments.
There has been lots to do to implement this initial but big change, and we’re really lucky to have had a great team of people to make that happen.
We’ve got an exciting programme of work ahead of us, building on much of the progress that we’ve been making over the last few years. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of that, and that we continue on our really exciting and important journey too.
Watch our short film to hear more about the story of our brand change: https://youtu.be/z7iPe06C5Fo.
A version of this article also appeared in the June 2023 issue of DDN.
Today, we are proud and excited to announce we’ve rebranded and changed our name from WDP to Via.
After 30 years of providing life-changing care, we’re moving away from a name we’ve outgrown. The name Westminster Drug Project (WDP) represented our origins – a drugs project in Westminster – but it no longer speaks to who we are now, what we do or our ambitions for the future.
As well as our transformational drug and alcohol services, we support adults and young people across the UK around their mental health, sexual health, and if they want to stop smoking. We also work with people interested in employment opportunities as part of their recovery journey.
The decision to change our name has been warmly welcomed by the people that use our services, our staff and volunteers, and our commissioners.
In our wide-ranging consultation work, we had lot of positive feedback about what people liked about us and didn’t want to lose. However, it was really clear that they wanted a name change, to something that was more discreet, simple, clear and not tied to any particular geography or substance. Working closely with creative agency, Asha & Co, our new name and brand were created to deliver against that feedback and to show who we are now.
Our new name Via reflects that we’re part of a journey, that everyone’s journey is different, and that we offer consistent expertise to work with people along their individual route.
Our logo illustrates this journey too as it can flex and change, signalling the different paths that people take, and the choices that can be made.
The new logo is also black and white, so it’s clear, simple and easy to recognise in its different forms. It changes as you click through our new website and on our different service materials.
The colour in our new brand comes from photography. The headline photographs we are now using purposefully don’t include faces, as it can feel limiting or excluding. Instead, the images reflect moments, beauty in the everyday and people connected to the world that they live in – real life and lived experiences. Over time, all of our headline photographs will be replaced by photographs taken by people with lived experience.
Watch our short film to hear more about how and why we’ve changed our name: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7iPe06C5Fo.
Anna Whitton, CEO of Via said: “This year we turn 30 and it is the right time for a new name that reflects our journey and responds to important feedback from the people we work with. Thank you to everyone who has helped us to make this decision and to deliver and launch an exciting new brand.”
Yasmin Batliwala, Chair of Via commented: “WDP has grown and developed over the last 30 years as has its reputation for quality and client focussed care. The change of name to ‘Via’ will enable us to embrace our determination to be the best provider of drug and alcohol services in the UK.”