Becoming change-makers

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Alistair sinclair WEB. jpgIt’s time to leave our little bubbles and make recovery visible, says Alistair Sinclair

Watching the news last week, the brutality in Gaza, the tragedy in Ukraine, I reflected on the little bubble I live in. It’s easier in the bubble. The brutality, horror and carelessness that exists outside seems so overpowering and huge. Despair poised, ready to envelop and suffocate. Some call this depression and give you pills and/or CBT. Some self-medicate, losing themselves in their dependencies. I cling on, just about, to the belief that in my bubble I can find new paths to tread.

But can I ignore what’s happening outside? Surely what we say, what we do has to be rooted in an attempt to alter fundamental inequalities? Or else, just in terms of my own self-interest, where can I go, how will I recover? How will I be at ease when all the taking notice I do tells me that I live in an asylum that’s making me and all the other inmates sicker?

In July’s DDN I suggested that it’s the sick and the afflicted that bring warnings, answers and healing in a world ravaged by the sane. Not a new concept but I thought it useful to throw out into a treatment and recovery world which often seems to view success as assimilation back into normal society, back into the consumerist/materialist bubble. I was trying to say that for me recovery, co-production and ABCD isn’t about empowering communities to become new producers, consumers and responsible partners in a neo-liberal landscape.

It isn’t about attacking the welfare state and the working-class people that make it work. It isn’t about being praised by politicians and welcomed back into the fold. ABCD is a tool (be careful with tools) to enable individuals and communities to discover or re-discover their power, their agency and capacity to become change-makers. My kind of recovery is liberation, empowerment and social justice. I believe we should start talking about the kind of change we want to bring about, the sort of world we want to live in. I think it’s time to pull recovery from the reductive treatment ghetto and perhaps start to leave our little bubbles behind.

Which is why the UKRF is promoting and supporting recovery month in September – a month which will make recovery more visible all over the UK and perhaps support a rejection of our default deficit thinking. It will be a month that will focus on community strengths and resilience. We want to celebrate and promote the passion, wisdom and strengths that exist in families, neighbourhoods and communities and nurture relationships within and across communities. We want to write new inclusive and hopeful stories.

Recovery month 2014 is shaping up. Writing this I’m aware of 37 events in the UK and the list is growing every day. Alongside the UK recovery walk in Manchester on 13 September there will be walks in Ireland, Scotland and Wales and local walks in other places. There will be festivals, film shows, workshops, cricket matches, parties, all sorts of stuff, big and small – lots of people coming together to share, learn and have fun. Lots of people stretching their bubbles, perhaps even stepping outside for a while. Making the path as they walk it.

Recovery month 2014 events: www.ukrf.org.uk/index.php/recovery-month/events

Recovery month 2014 t-shirts details here: www.ukrf.org.uk/index.php/recovery-month/recovery-month-t-shirt

Alistair Sinclair is UKRF director