Brighter outlook

Brighter Outlook DDN Feature


‘THERE ARE TWO KEY PARTS to coming off and staying off drugs,’ says Kim Hager, joint commissioning manager and drugs strategy partnership lead at Cornwall Council. ‘One is medical – coming off the actual drugs people are dependent upon. The other is improving social functioning, so that people can sustain their recovery successfully.’

With this in mind, the council has increased funding for WithYou in Cornwall’s Life Skills team, enabling it to work with more than 300 people across the county who are experiencing challenges with drug or alcohol use. The aim is to provide expert advice – but also the ‘structure, stability and human interaction’ that are so vital. ‘We’re starting to see the positive impact that this is having on people’s lives,’ says Hager.

Alongside drop-in groups, the team provides advice on benefits, debt and housing, and digital skills training to help people back into employment. They give ‘cooking on a budget’ classes to help improve physical health and walks to support mental wellbeing, as well as specialist sessions, including for members of the armed forces community.

The women-only support group The Fabulous Flamingos provides a safe space for women to talk to other women about their trauma and explore other forms of support through an integrated and reassuring approach – an environment that’s ‘very inclusive’ and where ‘everyone is embraced’, according to an attendee, Kim. ‘There wouldn’t be much variety in my life without the group,’ she says. ‘I always leave feeling much better than when I arrived.’

Hager knows that ‘for many people, drugs have become a solution to the problems they are experiencing, which can include housing, employment or mental wellbeing’ and hopes that investing in life skills will play a dynamic role in reducing drug deaths. Feedback from participants shows the initiative is making a difference by working in partnership to get people feeling back on track.

‘I’d be in a pretty vulnerable state right now if it wasn’t for the support of the Life Skills team,’ says Sophie. ‘I’ve been supported, understood and empowered through completing life skills around accessing benefits. They also consistently update me about groups and events and try to help reduce my social isolation. I really appreciate that they haven’t given up on me.’



Matt’s Recovery Lounge
Matt’s Recovery Lounge

A NEWLY REFURBISHED RECOVERY LOUNGE is providing a much-improved community hub in Yeovil. Peers from Turning Point’s Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service (SDAS) renovated and refurbished the lounge, adding bespoke artwork by a talented SDAS client.

Named Matt’s Recovery Lounge in memory of their much-missed peer Matt, the warm and welcoming space was generously funded by Matt’s parents, Sue and Peter Ricketts, with additional support from Somerset Council.

The idea stemmed from needing somewhere to offer support and friendship to people who are struggling all year round, not just a drop-in at Christmas. ‘We’re thrilled to be able to offer this greatly improved space to the community in memory of Matt,’ said Joseph, peer mentors and volunteers team leader.

‘It is a place where everyone is welcome to come and have a warm drink, play a game, read a book or engage in friendly conversations with our SDAS key workers or peer mentors. We will strive to make this a space where everyone feels safe, valued and respected.’

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