Opportunity to join our Recovery team

February 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

We are almost one year into our ambitious programme to deliver personalised recovery services and support to people experiencing substance misuse problems in West Kent. Our approach is based on extensive research undertaken by our Whole Person Recovery programme.

We’re looking for an ambitious, entrepreneurial, dynamic Lead Recovery Community Organiser to join the team and work from our one of our bases in West Kent, where you will be co-located with staff from our partner organisations (CRI and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust).

The job will focus on managing two Recovery Community Organisers, and on developing and delivering the Whole Person Recovery Programme in your hub area and across West Kent. You will work to build community based support to help service users sustain their recovery and become socially and economically included in their community as valued local citizens. You will be working with a wide range of service users, RSA staff and Fellows, and local business and civic leaders.

As recovery is a broad concept, encompassing many dimensions of social and economic inclusion, we are interested in hearing from candidates who may come from a range of community development, social innovation, employment, public service and other relevant backgrounds as well as those who work in the substance misuse sector.

If you would like an informal discussion about this job opportunity, please feel free to contact Steve Broome, Director of Research at steve.broome@rsa.org.uk or on 020 7451 6930 or Rebecca Daddow, Senior Researcher at rebecca.daddow@rsa.org.uk.

Apply here.

Community Christmas

December 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

I was emailed a brilliant blog last week. It’s all about how the internal and external comparisons that many of us are prone to making in life (think ‘keeping up with the Jones’), can lead to a negative spiral of thoughts and judgements. This is particularly true throughout the festive period when we’re constantly bombarded with images of what the ‘perfect’ Christmas looks like on the TV, in the shops, at the cinema.

Christmas tree and decorations. Panto. Cupboards bursting with more food and drink than you could possibly consume. Extended families all with matching jumpers and smiles on their faces. Fairy lights in every nook and cranny. Pops asleep in the corner. A roaring fire. Mountains of gifts under the tree. Stockings at the end of the bed.

The reality is that Christmas doesn’t look like this for most people for a wide range of reasons. This is especially true for many of the people we meet and work with through the Whole Person Recovery Programme. The pressure they put on themselves and each other to mirror this picture-perfect Christmas, can often lead down a very slippery road of despair, depression, anger, shame and relapse.

The pressure they put on themselves and each other to mirror this picture-perfect Christmas, can lead down a very slippery road of despair, depression, anger, shame and relapse

Thankfully through the West Kent Recovery Service, we have the opportunity to support these individuals and catch the first signs of these unrealistic comparisons, negative thoughts and downward spirals. We’re also putting on a Community Christmas Day at our Tonbridge Recovery Centre for anyone who would like an alternative, but no less ‘perfect’, Christmas Day.

Individuals and their families from across the community will be celebrating Christmas together. Many of them have never met before. Each will be bringing a contribution to the Christmas buffet (where they can). Staff at CRI have been generously cooking up a storm to make contributions even where they can’t be there. Other local agencies like Colebrook Road Hostel, have been getting involved too, donating and cooking a turkey and roast potatoes. My dad is making that old festive favourite, Cornish pasties…!!! It’s going to be an interesting feast. And it won’t look a bit like it does in the movies. But that’s ok because we’ll be ticking most of the 5 ways to well-being and having a great time doing it!

If you or anyone you know would like to find out more about our Community Christmas Day in Tonbridge (Kent), contact Rebecca.daddow@rsa.org.uk.

From the Whole Person Recovery team, we wish you a very merry Christmas! Keep connected, stay warm, and find your own perfect Christmas.

Nourishing the community

December 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Foodbanks have become fairly common across the UK in recent years. There are now more than 250 of them and in 2011-12 they helped to feed 128,687 people nationwide – a 100% increase on the year before.

It might surprise you to know who is accessing this support. The BBC’s recent programme ‘Britain’s Hidden Hungry’ certainly challenged a few of my preconceptions. The programme was a window into the genuine hardships that people are facing and was an alarming indication of how close many people are to the ‘breadline’. How many of us live month to month and could cope with an unexpected redundancy?

It can be difficult to think about people ‘in work’ being ‘in poverty’, but the reality is that according to recent trends, this is the ‘most distinctive characteristic of poverty today’. For these individuals, work has not been the route out of poverty that it should be.

Poverty is defined as people living in households with income below 60% of the median for that year (Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2012)

Foodbank’s are a response to the need we’re seeing in communities: in most cases offering short term support to those that find themselves in a time of crisis. I attended the launch of a new Foodbank in Tunbridge Wells last week – Nourish Foodbank – and am working with one of their organisers to link with our Whole Person Recovery Programme in West Kent by providing volunteers at the packing and distribution sites.

This is a fantastic new initiative that aims to do more than simply distribute food. Nourish want to be a community hub offering support and signposting and promote inter-agency working. This is incredibly important as budgets are being cut, jobs are being lost, and people move in and out of ‘poverty’ and crisis. We need to use our resources better, unearth latent ones, and create new ones. This is at the heart of what we’re doing in the recovery sector through our Whole Person Recovery programme and so, as you can imagine, we fully support this new community organisation.

The festive period can be a particularly difficult time for many. If you or someone you know is facing a crisis and needs to access a Foodbank outside of Tunbridge Wells, check out www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects for information about your nearest Foodbank.

For those of you that live in or around Tunbridge Wells and would like to support the Nourish Foodbank contact office@nourishcommunityfoodbank.org.uk.

You’ve got my vote!

November 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

Posted on behalf of Susie Pascoe, RSA Recovery Community Organiser (Maidstone)

Today I will be voting in the Kent County Police and Crime Commissioners Election. This seems to have been looming for a long time and yet has suddenly arrived.  I hope everyone has been avidly reading the candidates’ manifestos. I have had a grand total of one leaflet dropped through my door, which served only to convince me not to vote for that candidate!

Having worked in the recovery sector for a number of years now, I recognise the importance of getting this right, and so have been trawling the internet for more information about where my local candidates fall in regards to drugs and alcohol, before I cast my vote. It seems a mixed bag of opportunity.

Some people feel that politicising the Police is the wrong move, but even so, these elections are coming and given that all candidates have attempted some point of policy around drug and alcohol related crime, the ramifications for criminal justice and recovery sectors are likely to be significant.

all PCC candidates in Kent have attempted some point of policy around drug and alcohol related crime which means the ramifications for the recovery sector are likely to be significant

A single focus on punishment for substance misusers will do little to break the cycle of addiction or indeed the crime it can often lead to – all too often we hear of people being repeatedly sent to prison for short sentences where they may get little opportunity to make changes.

We know what works is a more nuanced focus on engaging substance misusers in treatment and working in partnership with local agencies to enable more people to recover and sustain their recovery. We need a PCC that will take the time to understand these complex issues and listen to the evidence. But that means we have to get out there and vote for the person most likely to do that.  Yet the elections seem to be being met with disinterest at best, and at worst, abject apathy, even amongst those working at the coalface of this sector.

In Kent, the Conservative, English Democrat and UKIP candidates promise a zero tolerance attitude towards drug related crime.  The Labour candidate states that ‘drug usage still blights lives’, but it is not clear what her intentions are around addressing this. Is her priority the blight to the general public in terms of crime, strain on healthcare and resources, or the catastrophic effect of addiction on the addicted and their families? An Independent candidate suggests a ‘total focus on cutting crime and catching the criminal’. Recidivism rates for drug users are high when you do not involve treatment in the process.

So the questions that face everyone in this sector in Kent are; how high is recovery on your agenda? One in five of us are affected by our own, or someone else’s substance misuse at some point in our lives. Who will meet your policing priorities? Have you even considered what they are?

I’ve found my ballot paper. Have you?

Happy Recovery Month!

June 1, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

On this, the 1st of June, I would like to wish all those on their recovery journey as well as those supporting it, a very Happy Recovery Month!

Martyn (our Maidstone Recovery Community Organiser) and I have been setting up a programme of events across West Kent (in collaboration with CRi and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) to bring communities around the 3 hubs together to celebrate recovery and raise awareness that people can and do recover.

These events are part of the Public Events Programme we have created within our Whole Person Recovery Programme. They include activities for service users and the wider recovery community, for the friends and families of those on their recovery journeys, and for the wider community.

I would like to wish all those on their recovery journey as well as those supporting it, a very Happy Recovery Month!

In Maidstone we have a Peer Support Awareness Day which has brought together the well-known 12-step groups such as AA, NA and CA with other community organisations and peer support groups, in one place to talk to service users and their families about what support they can get in and around Maidstone. This will be followed by a fantastic free community day in a local park with local bands, performance artists, BBQ, face-painting, balloon launch and speakers.

In Tonbridge we are de-camping to a local park for a community picnic with games and [hopefully] sunshine. This will be followed by a community day in Tunbridge Wells with a balloon launch, recovery tree, information desk, performance art and refreshments.

In Gravesend we are setting up home in an empty shop right on the high street thanks to 3Space. Here we will have all sorts of group activities, arts and crafts, information and awareness days, and a volunteering fair.

These are just some of the ways we’re celebrating recovery through June… We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

Follow us on Twitter @RSArecovery or #WPRrecoverymonth to keep up to date with the opportunities to get more involved and to see how it progresses over the month.

Internship opportunities: Whole Person Recovery

May 2, 2012 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Recovery 

This is an exciting week. Not only did I become an aunty for the first time, but we also announced 3 full-time paid intern positions to support our Whole Person Recovery programme of work across West Kent.

While I would like to gush over my new nephew here, I won’t. Instead I will focus on the internship opportunities before us. Interns will be asked to support the RSA Recovery Community Organisers at each of the programme sites (Maidstone, Tonbridge and Gravesend) in taking forward a full programme of activities throughout Recovery Month in June.

The fun doesn’t end there. In addition to supporting Recovery Month activities, interns will also be helping to establish a befriending scheme, a local Recovery Alliance, and the RSA Recovery Bank.

These roles require dynamic individuals with a passion for bringing communities together, supporting individuals in recovery and capable of thinking on their feet. These are full-time positions between end of May/June – July 2012.

To find out more about the internships and how to apply visit the Internship pages here.

Getting to know you… in Tunbridge Wells

April 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

It’s Week 4 of the RSA’s most recent expedition into the world of recovery which sees us taking forward our vision of a Whole Person Recovery System across West Kent. The last few weeks have come with the usual ups and downs linked to changing providers, TUPE procedures and settling into new buildings, but the momentum is growing and it’s all starting to take shape.

the Everyday Activities Programme is everyday stuff done every day

Yesterday was the first get together of service users in Tunbridge Wells to discuss what they would like to see within the Everyday Activities Programme. This is one of the set pieces that the RSA’s Recovery Community Organisers will be taking forward around each of the three main hubs (Maidstone, Gravesend and Tonbridge).

The Everyday Activities Programme is everyday stuff done every day. It’s about opening up opportunities for people in recovery to fill their time, have a laugh, learn some news skills, share their skills and meet other people in their local community. There will be activities to join morning and afternoon and at those times that can be the most difficult: evenings and weekends. The activities will be run by people in recovery, local community members, and practitioners and will be out in the community, away from the treatment centres.

the thing they most wanted to do was get to know each other

The ideas generated from the discussion yesterday were plentiful. They ranged from boxing to cooking to hair and nails. Paintballing got a mention too. But by the end of the fevered brainstorm the group decided that the thing they most wanted to do was get to know each other. Simply have a place to go for a few hours every week where they knew they could relax, have a cuppa, play some games and get to know the people that they have been bumping into for years in the treatment centre waiting rooms. With a solid foundation that this could generate, the group felt they could do anything.

So that’s what we’re going to do in Tunbridge Wells. For now.  I’m meeting a group in Maidstone tomorrow… I wonder what they will want to get started?

If you live or work in West Kent and would like to know more about the Whole Person Recovery programme and how you can get involved please contact Rebecca.daddow@rsa.org.uk

National Recovery Walk 2012

April 11, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

If you do one thing today let it be this… visit www.recoverywalk2012.org.uk and find out about all of the treats that Brian Morgan FRSA and the Recovery Walk 2012 team have in store for you 29 September 2012 in Brighton.

And then do another thing… tell someone else about it; someone that has never heard of the Recovery Walk. Tell them about the reality of recovery and the hope and aspiration it invokes. Tell them about the thousands of people that come together to celebrate their recovery journeys every year and who support the journeys of thousands more. Tell them how cities and towns are brought to a standstill in wonder at the purple parade marching through making recovery visible to whole communities.

Once you’ve done that, do it all over again. Everything else can wait for today…

If, like me, you’re an avid Twitterer then follow @UKRW2012 for all up to date information about the walk.

Putting ‘full’ recovery first…

April 10, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Recovery 

The Home Office’s Putting Full Recovery First document has created a hotbed of unrest across the recovery / addictions world with comments from as far afield as Australia. Closer to home, Twitter has been a-flutter with academics, practitioners, and recovery activists who seem predominantly apprehensive, anxious and confused by the departments latest offering.

I’ll be exploring some of the issues raised over the coming days through this blog, but in the meantime, here the Substance Misuse Management in General Practice (SMMGP) helpfully provide a brief overview of the document and explore some of the areas of unrest and discussion.

A brief overview: In this document, which appeared on the Home Office website at the end of March, the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) on drugs sets out to provide a roadmap for a new treatment system based on the overarching principles of wellbeing, citizenship and freedom from dependence. It does this by putting into context the ambition for reforming the system via a ‘purposeful policy programme’ and improved outcomes in a locally led system.

There are some positives to note – it recognises the contribution made by the Substance Misuse Skills Consortium, Recovery Group UK and Drugscope, and the role of these organisations “as key drivers of change” in providing a voice and channel of communication to the IMG.

The document outlines the purpose of Public Health England (PHE) as a ‘recovery orientated body’, with a vision for an integrated substance misuse treatment sector that includes alcohol. It confirms the major transfer of responsibilities to local authorities who will commission treatment services. Broadening the policy scope to include the welfare of families and securing housing and employment for people in treatment, and an integrated system that includes alcohol treatment, is commendable and of course, necessary.

SMMGP comment: The Putting Full Recovery First paper is an important looking document, with an introduction by Lord Henley, Chair of the Inter-ministerial Group on Drugs, and endorsed by Department of Health, DWP, Ministry of Justice, HM Treasury, Department of Education, Cabinet Office, and appears at first impression to be aimed – at least in part – at fulfilling the promises of the ‘Building Recovery in Communities’ programme that was consulted on last year.

We therefore read it with care and anticipation. However, on scrutiny, and disappointingly, it is a confusing document that contains several anomalies, e.g. there are several references to 2010/11 – why publish a (seemingly rushed) document at the end of the business year? It describes PHE almost solely in terms of taking over the functions of the NTA (‘which will be abolished’), when there are more than 60 outcome indicators for PHE of which drug and alcohol treatment is just one.

We therefore read it with care and anticipation. However, on scrutiny, and disappointingly, it is a confusing document that contains several anomalies

The frequent use of the phrase ‘full recovery’ in the paper is also confusing and will probably alarm people in treatment who already fear the threat of time-limited sanctions. It isn’t quite clear what is meant by it – whether having full recovery refers to being in treatment plus having a job and a house, or whether it means abstinence is being advocated.

With no clear action points included, it doesn’t quite live up to the promise of providing a roadmap, if anything, it loses its way, and may have the effect of needing to stop and ask again for directions before ending up in a dead end, or causing a pile up.

No one would argue with an ambition to improve people’s lives by having them recover from dependence on drugs (or alcohol) plus having a job and being housed; that is an ambition shared by most of us who work in the field. This document undervalues the recovery gains that have been made in the current system, and sadly writes it off as having been ‘full of …waste’.

No one would argue with an ambition to improve people’s lives by having them recover from dependence on drugs (or alcohol) plus having a job and being housed; that is an ambition shared by most of us who work in the field

Recovery is seldom a single event contained within a set period of time. It is usually incremental, often over many years. It can even be spontaneous. What is almost impossible is to describe it in rigorous terms and attach a value to it upon which payments will be made, once people have achieved it ‘fully’. It would be dangerous if there was a rush to commission services based on the belief that this document sanctions time limited treatment or that the underlying goal is abstinence for all.

We agree that a static treatment system benefits no one, and in recent years there have been encouraging community initiatives and recovery networks gaining ground all over the country, which provide a welcome and important means of support for all. But we know that the evidence for drug treatment as it stands, implemented responsibly, backed by sound clinical governance, and working in partnership with the patient, delivers. It delivers on the prevention of death and disease and crime reduction, whilst improving people’s lives, health and wellbeing, thereby giving them the opportunity of to recover.

During this time of ‘business as unusual’, we will continue to work hard to champion high standards and ensure quality treatment for all. As reflected on our forums and in other communications, we are encouraged by the resolve of the members of SMMGP and others in the field who work to uphold the gains made in treatment in recent years.

The views expressed in this post are those of the SMMGP. If you would like to discuss any of the content with SMMGP please contact Elsa Browne at elsa.browne@nta-nhs.org.uk


Managing the transition of public health

February 23, 2012 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Recovery 

Do you know what ward you live in? Do you know the name of the elected member of council who represents your ward? Did you vote for them? Do you know how to get in contact with them?

If I am completely honest, until recently, I could only answer the last question and that was only because I vaguely know that council websites have the direct contact details for elected council members! I blame my transient London lifestyle and the fact I never stay in one ward area long enough to vote.

Why am I bleating on about this you wonder? Well, I listened live to the NICE webinar yesterday looking at the transition of public health to local authorities. It focussed particularly on:

  • Commissioning in local authorities
  • Using evidence in public health
  • Commissioning good value public health programmes
  • Moving public health into local authorities: how NICE can help

It was hugely informative but I came away with sense of urgency to get out there and win the hearts and minds of every elected member in the country in support of the recovery agenda.

What was starkly clear from the discussion yesterday – if we didn’t already know – was the potential for some issues to be de-prioritised at the local level, especially those that are complex, stigmatised, hidden or difficult to address.  Elected members have a duty to represent the concerns of their constituency. But what if they don’t know of, fail to engage or simply ignore parts of their constituency? Look at who votes in local elections and you might get a sense of the views that are being represented and those that are missing. It’s not new news that those who are socially excluded ‘are less likely to turn out to vote and less likely to participate in non-electoral ways.’

Where do you think drug and alcohol issues will feature on the priority list alongside obesity, smoking, cancer, and the aging population?

Add to that the advice being passed down to Health and Wellbeing Boards that they limit their strategy to focus on just 3-4 issues. Where do you think drug and alcohol issues will feature on the priority list alongside obesity, smoking, cancer, and the aging population? During the NICE event, a poll asking listeners to vote for what the priorities in their community suggested it might come second (to obesity) but this might be expected given the likely profession of most listeners. I’m a little more sceptical about it coming second amongst the wider voting public.

I’m in danger of being overly pessimistic here. Localism brings a number of advantages to the recovery field especially in those areas that have a healthy evidence base, well-informed local experts (in the right place), strong partnerships and the pro-active engagement of more than the just the usual voting public. We suggest that a good starting point for this is to create broad Recovery Alliances but more on this another time.

my suggestion would be to get a head start in making the path by walking it so that when the sat-navs get switched on across local government, the route is lined with a visible and integrated presence of recovery

The transition to public health in local authorities is going to be an interesting journey – one of the speakers even suggested that the first phase will be a transition to the transition, so I’m not even sure whether the road is ready yet! So if you’re pioneering the recovery revolution, as I know many of you are, my suggestion would be to get a head start in making the path by walking it so that when the sat-navs get switched on across local government, the route is lined with a visible and integrated presence of recovery.

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