It’s a Kind of Magic!

April 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

This is a guest blog by Steve Bodycomb. Steve is involved with the West Kent Recovery Service and a member of the service’s Research and Innovation Team.

There are good days; very occasionally there are great days. To an addict in recovery every day they stay safe is a good day.

It was psychiatrist Carl Jung who said there were two ways people could find recovery from addiction; through ‘religious experience’ or the ‘protective wall of human community’. This story is definitely the latter and the human community is family. Not blood-relatives but a growing family of recovering addicts helping each other.

So what makes a good day great? Let me elucidate… Ladybird
After a bad night’s sleep, I was not in the best of humour and the 5am start to the day did little to enhance my grumblings. Getting up and hobbling to the shower on my crutches, I slipped and fell backwards. Knowing I could not stop myself falling, I had no option but to use my one good leg to propel myself onto the bed, rather than risk more serious injury. Fortunately, the landing was a success although not dignified; flat on my back, legs akimbo, with crutches spread even wider like some helpless, flailing insect turned-turtle by a mischievous child.

By the time I had composed myself, made it through the shower, dressed and limped downstairs my daughter had rung to say she had missed the train so could I run her to school. Rather than her be late I agreed, collecting her before heading off in the opposite direction to where I needed to go adding some 40 minutes to my journey. Seeing the bus leave as I neared the stop, the 15 minute wait for the next one turned to a 28-minute wait in the cold wind and rain. After a walk, or hobble, of more than a mile on my crutches I arrived at the Maidstone hub of West Kent Recovery Service where I was due to greet and serve at the breakfast club organised by the RSA’s Whole Person Recovery programme.

Cold, damp and in pain I was, obviously, not in the best frame of mind and after the inauspicious start to the day it certainly wasn’t looking like being a great day.

Whether it was the effect of attending the ‘Action on Addiction’ seminar on the effectiveness of Mutual Aid recently I don’t know, but in the couple of hours following my arrival I witnessed something quite remarkable that had a profound effect on me.

The breakfast club had been going for about 15 minutes when a key worker appeared with a shy and anxious client. They had travelled from another service where they currently have no breakfast club or mutual self-help groups, such as Aspire2Be – a peer support group in Maidstone – and he felt his client would benefit from such groups.

Now I have to break away from the story for a minute; as I feel it only fair to say that the only reason I refer to the persons as the key worker and the client is to respect their anonymity. It is not a case of us and them. In reality it’s all of us together, as equals, no-one being more or less important than anyone else in the group.
Anyway back to the story….

I welcomed the client, introduced myself and the other club members nearby and offered to make them a hot drink. While they sat with their key worker, it was obvious that they were anxious and very nervous. Who wouldn’t be meeting a group of total strangers for the first time? I told her a little about the group and other activities at the hub with her key worker interjecting along with some of the other breakfast club members.

That’s when the magic started….
The client started relaxing, becoming visibly less anxious and started to engage with the group. Soon they were taking an equal part of the conversations. There were lots of smiles and jocularity as there always is at breakfast club. Help and advice being freely exchanged along with experiences, hopes, aspirations, fears and dreams.

We have a saying in recovery that ‘No one understands an addict like another addict’. Within 90 minutes of being at a mutual self-help group, a shy, highly anxious and stressed person was fully engaging with members of the group to the point of discussing which other groups and activities people did and arranging with some to meet at the meetings. New friendships formed in minutes, with the client telling the key worker that they felt safe and happy. They said that within the time they had been there they felt welcomed, listened to and part of the community. New friends that actually listened, understood and knew how they felt.

They also told the key worker that he need not stay as they felt okay to be left with their new friends and had indeed decided to stay on after the breakfast club and try out the Lazy Energy Workshop that followed.

I was still in the building when the participants were leaving the workshop and there were lots of smiles, goodbyes and see you on such-a-such night. The client also made a point to come and say goodbye to me saying that they had really enjoyed their time with us and couldn’t wait till the next breakfast club. They had also signed up to the Aspire2Be sessions.people pic

Whether or not they do return, time will tell, but I have no reason to doubt they will, seeing the smiles as they left. They saw in that short time, that recovery is possible and life in recovery from addiction can be fun and fulfilling. The very worst case scenario is that they were safe for the half-day they spent with us.

Personally I have always known the power of mutual self-help groups whether they be Fellowship 12-step higher power groups or non-secular groups such as Aspire2Be, or the even more informal breakfast clubs.

People helping people for the simple reason of wanting to give back what they have received. Real altruism in action.
The work and involvement of the RSA in the help and support of these mutual self-help groups cannot be quantified by me, other than anecdotally. All I can say is stories like the one in this blog happen far too often to be a mere coincidence. This isn’t some clever smoke and mirror trickery; designed to fool those whose only interest is the data on a spreadsheet. This is real, tactile, holistic healing. For those of us fortunate enough to witness, and be part of the power of these groups we have only one word to describe it….

And the people who were once the story are now telling and sharing the story. And with the continued support and encouragement from organisations such as the RSA (part of the West Kent Recovery Service), this amazing self-help community will continue to grow and flourish.

Myself, I am honoured and humbled to be able to serve and know such amazing people. So what started out as a good day turned into a great day. And the secret of its success?

Well, it’s a kind of magic!


Are you coming to bed?

March 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

March has been National Bed Month.

For me, this is an event that I can really get into, so to speak. I have always taken a professional and personal interest in sleep quality, even more so since having a child, when life and sleep can become so disrupted that you hardly know which way is up, let alone have the energy to venture there to find your bed.

There’s a wealth of research into how quality of sleep affects us, and many an argument as to how much of it we need. But the general consensus is that poor sleep equals poor health, reduced performance and less effective coping.

In the recovery field, there is a commonly used acronym – HALT. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, and it’s what you are supposed to stop and assess yourself for if you are struggling with cravings. I don’t know where it originated from but I’ve found it to be of immense value, not only working in the recovery field, but relevant to my action around my own wellbeing.

Although not necessarily easy, I find the first three to be the most immediately solvable issues. Hunger, of course, can be remedied by paying attention to diet and eating regularly. Anger, can be resolved by dealing with the situation, either directly or by finding ways of letting it go – counselling, meditation or physical activity for example. Loneliness can be a huge challenge for people – but Apps like Social Mirror can be of benefit, and most communities offer social groups if you are willing and able to get out there and engage. Tiredness, I think, can be the most challenging of these issues to control.

Nightmare picThere are of course, many natural ways to improve the quality of your sleep. In recovery, the use of ‘sleep tea’, a combination of herbs such as chamomile and lavender is commonly used. Sour cherry juice has also been proffered as a proven natural way to improve sleep. Yoga and meditation is used for relaxation and to reduce anxiety. But how many of us, in recovery or elsewhere, make getting quality sleep a daily focus? If you are anything like me, sleeping is not the period of the day that I attend to the most, but it is probably what I should prioritise. Anxiety about specific events can keep me awake at night, and that is the time that a person needs sleep the most.

We see sleep problems a lot in this sector, especially in the period after people have detoxed from substances. Waiting for your body to reach a state of equilibrium again can be an arduous process, and people describe waking in a sweat following dreams where they have drunk alcohol or used drugs, when that is the exact thing they are working so hard to avoid. Often GPs will prescribe sleeping tablets, but these of course are not meant to be a long term solution, and do not serve to provide any sort of ‘sleep training’ or encourage us to think further about ourhammock-pic-resized own role in getting good sleep.

The New Economics Foundation created a list of five everyday actions that people can take to improve wellbeing. So much of our own work within Whole Person Recovery is anecdotal, but based on that, and my own experience, I would add a sixth ‘way to wellbeing’ – work to improve your sleep.

Perhaps, if we all spared thirty minutes a day to take action around our sleep – taking a warm bath before bed, meditating, writing down our thought summary of the day, or doing some active relaxation, our wakeful periods may be enhanced, and we could really focus on the other five ways.

sleeping man

Hopefully, you have managed to stay awake whilst reading this blog……………


A little inspiration for a Wednesday afternoon

March 5, 2014 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Recovery 

We all have those days. The ones when we wonder why we do our jobs. Why we manage a team, take our place on a factory plant line, or decided to be a stay at home parent. Those days that are frustrating, unfulfilling and unproductive. Many of us do our jobs because we need a steady pay cheque. Some of us do our jobs because most days it’s not too bad. The lucky amongst us do our jobs because we generally enjoy it.

SB blog image 1When I have those bad days, I tend to think about the people I work with. This tends to extend way beyond the team here at the RSA who will always pick me up when my day has been challenging, to the recovery community that I work so closely in West Kent. I have often heard people in this sector say something along the lines of ‘one person committed to their recovery can make up for ten that are not yet ready to change’.

I work with an amazing team of volunteers. The other day, one of them sent me a passage of text that he had posted on a social media website (through which he has many professional contacts including his employer). What struck me most about this was not only the amazing change he has been through, but how proud he is of the journey he has made. Using volunteers and peer mentors who are in recovery in the West Kent Recovery Service is a visible and inspiring demonstration that recovery can happen, but many people still remain anxious and concerned about the stigma placed on addiction and recovery in the wider community. For me, this was an inspiring account of change. Someone who has not only faced their problems and sought out the support they needed, but is not afraid to talk about it, to anyone. SB blog image 3

Here is what he wrote:

“Addiction is not something you decide to do. It’s an illness and unfortunately there is NO cure. Some of us are lucky and learn to live and control the condition BUT ask any addict – it is a battle that is very difficult to fight. Many addicts relapse and when they do the addiction takes even stronger hold. It is so easy for non-addicts to judge and say it’s easy to stop. But to all you non-addicts, imagine trying to live your life, constantly swimming against the tide. Every now and then the tide is too strong and carries you back downstream. Some of us lucky ones manage to start swimming upstream again. Unfortunately far too many don’t get another chance. It doesn’t matter what the subsSB blog image 2tance or thing; addiction is addiction.

In a previous part of my life I used no substances whatsoever but was going to the gym three times a day and taking a run at stupid o’clock at night. I now begin to understand; same addiction different substance. For years I kept my addictions secret thinking I was somehow at fault or had no self-control; not knowing that I was wired differently from those non-addicts around me. For me, one of anything was never enough.

I now am learning to live with a co-existence of addiction and other mental health issues. At the moment I am in remission but each day, every breath, every step is a battle to keep my head above water. Every day I can think of a good reason to use. And every day I then find a better reason NOT to.

So to you all. Get this straight. I am an addict! I am currently in a period of remission BUT know I’ll be an addict for the rest of my life. I will fight the fight not to use and take each day as it comes. I’ve accepted my fate and have no secrets from anybody”.

So that’s what will inspire me, for today at least. I hope that everyone finds the same sort of inspiration in their work. I wish you an inspiring rest of your week.


Help thy neighbour………but in the right way?

August 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

We are bombarded with encouragement to help our neighbours, to participate in our communities and to fight for change in our towns. But how many of us stop to consider whether our actions are the most effective use of the money, time or energy that we are able to give? Maidstone hosts one of the West Kent Recovery Service hubs where the RSA’s Whole Person Recovery project focuses on supporting people to move away from problematic drug and alcohol use and to become responsible and contributory members of society. It is a lovely town, with an abundance of public services and yet also seems to have a disproportionate amount of people who are rough sleeping.homeless

The Council in Maidstone has recently followed a number of other boroughs and launched the controversial campaign ‘your kindness could kill’, aimed at educating people that sometimes providing hand-outs to people who don’t have the skills or willingness to make healthy choices is not the best use of cash. The narrative attached to this campaign is extreme – the inference that if you choose to give money then you are choosing to put someone else at risk. I wonder how successful a campaign like this is, and how exactly success would be measured.  Publicity around the campaign states the aim is ‘to tackle begging’ and ‘get homeless people off the streets’, but one wonders what the real motive is behind such an arresting call to action. Undoubtedly, some people are forced into rough sleeping and this is for a myriad of reasons. Britain has a shortage of social housing and in some areas there are reported twenty year waiting lists for appropriate housing. The Maidstone Day Centre, who provide direct services for homeless people, state on their website that they are aware of 25-30 people who will be sleeping rough in Maidstone tonight. Isn’t this what we should be focussing on?

Begging is an emotive issue. Is it better for a person to beg others for money than to commit crime? The aim of the campaign is ostensibly to deter people from donating money to those that may not in fact be homeless and would use it to buy drugs or alcohol, but it seems to me that this micromanagement of the wider problem is a little lacklustre. Is the aim to deter people from begging by cutting them off at the source?  Is it to reduce substance misuse amongst the population or is it an attempt to drive funding towards those charitable organisations that are struggling to fill the void created by public service cuts with a harsh reduction in available funding?  One of the main problems not identified by those behind the campaign is that giving money to someone in the street is reactive and immediately gratifying, while giving money to a charity often requires planning and is easier to put off or forget about.  I wonder at what point it was considered a better idea to try this convoluted campaign over channeling resources into a more direct approach – say more resources for the support homeless services directly, or for street wardens and Police staff. Perhaps street wardens could carry a charity box that the public could immediately divert their funds into?

Just how naïve are people who choose to give money in this way?  One comment on the local newspaper’s website stated “there was me thinking every time I bunged a beggar a quid or 2 that they were running straight to the bank to pop into an ISA account”. Even though the public is aware of the risks, they clearly still choose to give.

My concern is that this type of campaign further stigmatise a group of people who already face extreme challenges. Is it the case that people who would give cash to beggars will find a more appropriate way to give? I would be interested to see if the charities that offer homeless support report an increase in charitable donations as a result of this campaign.

If you would like to get involved with any of the wonderful causes that help to support homeless people in Maidstone click here for information, or you could just pop down to the town and start handing out 20p pieces. But that’s for you to decide.


National PbR providers summit

July 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

In May 2013, the RSA and Drugscope convened a meeting of the providers that deliver the eight national ‘Payment by Results’ (PbR) substance misuse pilots.  The RSA wore two hats: one reflecting our role as a think tank with a now longstanding concern for substance misuse policy and practice; and one reflecting our role as one of the providers.  (As readers of this blog will know, the RSA is part of a consortium lead by CRI and including Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which delivers the West Kent PbR substance misuse pilot.)

The purpose of the summit was to explore the provider experience over the first 12 months of operation from April 2012, and in doing so to highlight good practice and identify practical recommendations for implementing PbR schemes.  You can download a short summary of the themes discussed and the learning points that emerged below:

RSA DrugScope PbR MeetingNote (pdf)

I will not summarise or repeat the main points here, but I want to add a reflection on some conversations I had very recently about these points and what they mean for PbR.  The pilots represent significant system change, that is happening within significant wider system change, that is happening within wider change still.  The move to recovery-oriented systems, delivered through PbR mechanisms in the case of the pilots, is happening in the context of wider health-system change (move to public health, introduction of Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health and Wellbeing Boards, and so on), which is occurring in the context of multiple and complex changes to public services and the welfare system and wider economic stress for many groups and areas (all of which impacts on ‘recovery outcomes’ to varying degrees).  Levels of public service performance can often dip after major re-organisations, so isolating the effect of PbR specifically appears difficult.

Further, it was interesting to note that when providers spoke at the summit of the ‘effect of PbR’ in terms of the value-adding change it had made to service delivery and emerging outcomes for service users, it was usually difficult to see how PbR itself had actually brought about this change.  Rather, PbR had acted as a catalyst for change – something to shake up the system; a stimulus or opportunity for new thinking and innovation.  It seemed that changes could have been brought about by some other catalyst (and in most cases, it seemed that these changes would have happened anyway, given local capabilities and concerns, and as the focus on recovery given by the national drugs strategy washes through the sector).  Again, any change measured will be difficult to attribute to the impact of the financial mechanisms and incentives of PbR.  The diversity of PbR designs in the pilot sites (and the corresponding diversity of the responses delivered by the providers), and the wider roll out of PbR into other (non-pilot) sites make comparisons across areas difficult.  Even with a sophisticated realistic evaluation design, it will be difficult to take account of this much noise.  The risk is therefore that we mis-interpret what PbR does (both positively and problematically), and do not consider whether there are better mechanisms for driving transformation, innovation and improved outcomes.  At least the pilots are generating a significant amount of data that can help to unpick the puzzle (this is PbR without the black box in practice).

The RSA will be publishing a report in the Autumn that will explore our experience of delivering under PbR arrangements.  In the meantime, one clear lesson to emerge from the summit is around the speed of the PbR design phase and the turbulence encountered in the early stage of delivery.  Transforming Rehabilitation should take note.


RSA Fellows: bound by a common desire for change

June 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship 

As a newly appointed Fellowship Development Coordinator, one of the first questions I asked my colleagues from the outset was… so what is the average Fellow like? Of course, I soon discovered that amongst the 27,000, there is no such thing as an average Fellow. The Fellowship is made up of a diverse collection of people who are united by the desire to build a better society.

As I slowly heard more from my colleagues about Fellow-led projects, Catalyst fund applications and Fellow Networks I began to understand how Fellows are at the centre of achieving the RSA’s charitable objectives. In recent months we have welcomed some fantastic new Fellows who are undertaking diverse and highly innovative work in their respective fields.


Tunde Omodara FRSA is an entrepreneur who runs a food and manufacturing business both here and in Nigeria. He also founded 2ndWay.Org, a non-profit organisation that seeks to provide affordable loan finance to growing SME businesses in Africa.  His interest in the RSA was initially sparked after attending one of our public lectures (did you know you can view most of our events online?) and he has joined the RSA because he is interested in sustainable enterprise and trade as a vehicle to generate social change and development, and would like to meet other likeminded Fellows.

Fellows discover the RSA through a variety of different routes. Enterprise Manager at Ogilvy and Mather Shannon Vaughan FRSA was recently nominated for Fellowship by another Fellow.  As leader of the ‘Rough Diamond’ project which aims to nurture raw talent and introduce young leaders to emerging technologies, Shannon believes that ‘we have a responsibility to learn from history’ in order to improve career prospects for young people.

Following a successful career in the city, Rosemary Farmer FRSA decided that she wanted to make a change and focus on work that would benefit the community. Rosemary is currently the Mayor of Harpenden but previously worked with Hertfordshire Joint Commission analysing and assessing the needs of people with substance misuse problems. As she is also chair of the charity Druglink, she became interested in the RSA after learning of the Whole Person Recovery programme. Rosemary would like to engage further with the RSA in tackling the complex problems associated with substance misuse and takes ‘particular interest in the issue of stigma and how it impacts on recovery, integration and aspiration’.

Across the pond in sunny Florida, Robert Belanger FRSA has followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and recently become a Fellow. As a circuit judge in the State of Florida he has long had a commitment to civic innovation and social change.  Robert is particularly interested in helping both judges and scholars better understand the judicial process to generate ideas for how it might be improved. He would welcome the opportunity to share and apply these ideas with other Fellows who are committed to the RSA mission.

‘Throughout the past five years or so, I have been asking myself what it is that that makes countries better off.

Some of our other Fellows based overseas are RSA connectors and part of a growing international network of FRSA that act as the first port of call for new Fellows in their country of residence.

Although on paper they seem very different, Fellows are bound by a common desire to improve society, but what truly makes Fellowship so dynamic, is the how.

How can I use my skills and knowledge to change things for the better?

Switzerland based Stephen Schuez FRSA has been considering exactly this:

‘Throughought the past five years or so, I have been asking myself what it is that makes countries better off. I have come to the conclusion that in the form of entrepreneurial activities it is people themselves that forward an economy and help establish a sustainable system.’ 


Then contact us on +44 (0)207 451 6904!

Then contact us on +44 (0)207 451 6904

Each new Fellow brings with them a personal ‘how to’; the RSA provides them with a platform to expand, collaborate and test it out.

We have a network of 27,000 Fellows in 80 countries around the world. Becoming part of the Fellowship is about demonstrating a commitment to positive social change and working collobaratively to find practical solutions to today’s social challenges.

If you are not a Fellow but would like to know more about Fellowship and how to become a Fellow you can email or find more details here.

If you are a Fellow of the RSA and would like to nominate someone for Fellowship you can do so here, or if you would like to connect with any of the Fellows detailed in this blog post, then please do not hesistate contact us.

Alexandra Barker is a Fellowship Development Coordinator at the RSA










Whole Person Recovery – One Year On

April 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Fellowship, Recovery 

The RSA’s Whole Person Recovery project’s first anniversary is this spring.  You may have been following our progress in West Kent through the fellowship newsletter, the Whole Person Recovery Newsletter or the Recovery Blog.  Maybe you’ve attended a Public Event Programme lecture or a Recovery Alliance Meeting.  If this is the first you’re hearing of the programme it’s a perfect opportunity to get involved.  You don’t need to have personal experience of addiction or recovery to contribute to the programme. Recovery is a complex and individual journey with which we can all relate to in respect of its organic or non-linear nature.

Attaining ‘recovery’ and achieving a balanced, healthy and engaged life obtaining the things many of us take for granted such as a job, a car, and a family waiting for us when we get home can seem a difficult place to reach.  However, Whole Person Recovery is based on the acknowledgement that both addiction and recovery do not occur within a vacuum and are based significantly on social, personal and community influences.

5 ways to wellbeing

Statistical evidence strongly suggests that one in five of us will know someone who has experienced problems with drugs and/ or alcohol. For those of us who know these individuals, we recognise that alcohol and drugs are usually just a symptom of deeper problems yet to be acknowledged or resolved. Today’s world throws us all tough challenges; for the most vulnerable in our communities these challenges are more hazardous.

Our aim is help programme participants mainstream their lifestyles and plug back into their communities and tap the abundant social resources available so that their recovery encompasses work, housing, friends, family and purposeful activity, in employment, education or enterprise.  So what if someone is stable and on their feet again after accessing available support? What comes next?  This is where the RSA’s network of Fellows is an invaluable resource.

People in recovery span all strata of society – from  the man who used to live on the streets to the mum who has seen her children grow up and fly the nest, but they generally all have one thing in common – they have had to take ‘time out’ to work on their recovery. This time may have left a sense of insecurity or limited or outdated professional skills. There will be a time when such individuals well on the path of recovery will want to achieve goals beyond the sphere of their health and physical wellbeing.

Fellows in West Kent and the South East can make a huge difference to our work in often, quite simple, ways.

-          Offering a space on a training course

-          Inviting someone to shadow you at your workplace for a number of days

-          Attending or giving a talk at one of our West Kent hubs

-          Mentoring someone aspiring to enter your field of expertise

If you would like to know more about Whole Person Recovery feel free to email or follow us on Twitter.


Will minimum pricing bring about minimum change?

February 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recovery 

Yet again we are talking about alcohol pricing as a realistic strategy for curbing Britain’s excessive drinking. I have been following with interest articles regarding the Government’s proposal to set minimum prices for units of alcohol. The minimum pricing strategy suggests that alcohol in the UK will not be sold at any less than 45p per unit.

this strategy is regarded as a quick fix

Certainly, the impact of problematic drinking on our communities and services such as the NHS is high, but I wonder if the answer is really to attempt to price people out of drinking alcohol. I think it would be fair to say that this strategy is regarded as a quick fix, rather than an attempt to address the issue of excessive drinking. What is needed is an integrated strategy that encourages people to address problematic drinking.

But will minimum pricing have much of an impact on alcohol consumption? There is no short term, quick fix for problematic drinking. A report by The Centre of Economics and Business Research suggests that unless problematic drinkers are priced out by significantly high price rises, they will find ways to maintain their drinking. In my experience, for people who have a physical or psychological dependence on alcohol it’s not really about whether they can afford it or not. For people who drink moderately, price rises may mean that they choose to drink less, or abstain completely. But this is clearly not the group of people who are being targeted by the pricing strategy; “this isn’t about stopping responsible drinking”.

The Alcohol strategy claims that minimum pricing will not impact on the pub trade, because alcohol prices in pubs are already high. Government levies on establishments such as pubs and clubs already price many people out of social drinking, and many choose to drink at home instead. A raise in pricing will not serve to entice people back to their local, but it may mean that for this less visible group of drinkers, problems develop where people choose to go without essentials or rack up debts in order to carry on drinking.

For people who feel unable to reduce their drinking, a price increase may encourage offences such as shoplifting. What the Government’s alcohol strategy does consider are tougher consequences for people committing crime as a result of excessive drinking. For people whose alcohol use leads to problematic behaviour such as offending, the Alcohol strategy proposes running trials of enforced sobriety schemes.  I cannot see how attempting to force a person into abstinence fits with the Recovery Agenda.  What is lacking from this strategy is a focus on long term solutions – putting more of a focus on encouraging people to make changes to their drinking by addressing the underlying reasons for it.

What the new alcohol strategy makes no mention of are the wider spread impact in terms of alcohol and drugs. Adfam proposes that ‘the future of alcohol policy should account for the effects of excessive drinking on families and children’. It is exactly this type of approach that marries with our Whole Person Recovery model – the idea that a person is less likely to recover without a network of support from their friends and family, and yet it is the same people who are most affected by their loved one’s addiction.

Moves to equip the public with the knowledge and skills to identify problems such as declining mental health and addiction and to empower them to work collaboratively towards solutions would surely benefit us all far more than trying to price people out of problematic drinking. Supportive relationships and good opportunities will be key protective factors in reducing and addressing problematic drinking in young people and our adult population.

the impact of problematic drinking on our communities and services such as the NHS is high

The person that wakes up in the morning and has to go and buy a litre of strong cider just to stop themselves being violently ill is unlikely to consider whether he can really afford it or not. The person that drinks excessively at the weekend, ‘pre-loading’ before going out with friends, will probably find that extra few quid to carry on with their habit.

It will take a much more integrated strategy to bring about a cultural shift in our drinking habits. Perhaps they will bring in a minimum price charge for chocolate next.


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 or on 020 7451 6930 or Rebecca Daddow, Senior Researcher at

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

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


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