‘By our silence we let others define us’

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AnnemarieIn the run-up to the UK Recovery Walk this month, Annemarie Ward looks at how far the charity has come and where it’s heading 

The UK Recovery Walk charity exists to spread the message that ‘prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is a lived reality in millions of people’s lives’. Our primary purpose is to deliver these messages of hope to the cultures of addiction in our treatment systems and communities, and the charity’s leaders are all people who are in long-term recovery from addiction. In order that we don’t get diverted from our primary purpose we are not involved in mental health advocacy and wider social justice issues. We have no opinion on political and philosophical ideologies, different approaches to community development and public health, or whose truth is better and more beautiful than anyone else’s.

Since our formation in April 2013 we have brought the film The Anonymous People to more than 40 locations throughout the UK to raise awareness of our mission, and so far we have been able to sign up nearly 700 members. We have also developed various resources to help mobilise, support and unify the UK recovery movement, all of which are free to download from our website, including Advocacy with anonymity, using your story, top tips for media, and recovery community organisations’ toolkit.

IMG_5152During the past year we have co-produced the 2014 UK Recovery Walk with the Greater Manchester Recovery Federation and in addition we have:

•            Developed two training courses: ‘Our stories have power’ with accompanying Q&A booklet, and The ‘UK Recovery Coach Manual’, complete with training exercises. (These can all be downloaded free from our website.)

•            Launched the Association of Community Recovery Organisations (ACRO), inspired by Faces and Voices of Recovery in the US.

•            Launched The ‘Give it back’ campaign (every September) – a national and regional media campaign to showcase examples of individuals and groups in long-term recovery voluntarily giving something back to their local communities.

•            Organised our sell-out conference, ‘Advocacy in Action’ (the day before the UK Recovery Walk) in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, which we hope will inform, inspire and guide our own movement.

The UK Recovery Walk charity is the only organisation in the UK with an explicit mission to respond to the organisational and leadership development needs of grassroots addiction recovery community organisations, and to develop and unify addiction recovery advocacy in the UK. Why not visit our website at www.ukrecoverywalk.org and even join the charity (it’s free!) and support our work for the next year, when our priorities will be:

•            Co-producing the 7th UK Recovery Walk in Durham in September 2015.

•            Developing non-stigmatising, evidence-based narratives for the recovery advocacy movement to engage the public and policymakers.

•            Advocating for the promotion of laws and social policies that reduce alcohol and other drug problems and support recovery for those suffering from addiction to them.

•            Organising and supporting local and national advocacy campaigns.

•            Further developing the Association of Recovery Community Organisations to support local action.

•            Developing a leadership forum to increase leadership capacity and capability in the UK recovery movement.

We look forward to seeing you at the 6th UK Recovery Walk in Manchester on 13 September to celebrate the achievements of individuals in recovery, and acknowledge the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

Annemarie Ward is CEO of the UK Recovery Walk charity, www.ukrecoverywalk.org