Come Together

This year’s exhibition area was a thriving hub of activity, with a colourful array of stands from service user groups and services. The Shenanigans band played, a dancing flash mob broke out, and there were plenty of opportunities to network and explore the activities on offer. DDN asked about experiences of the day.

‘It was my first conference, so I met a lot of new people from all over the country from various different sides of the recovery world. People from the NHS demonstrated they really want to listen to us and that was inspiring and very welcome indeed. During the workshop on how to sustain a community group, I heard a lot of inspirational people and I made further connections. Hopefully, I’m going to make use of such great ideas about getting partner organisations involved in our projects. I’m looking forward to the next conference where we can show our achievements.’

Fabio, Lancashire User Forum (LUF)

‘What was really special for me is that among the 32 attending from LUF were individuals who come from all over Lancashire, representing various treatment services and recovery pathways – also people who now work for competing treatment providers. Yet when we represent Lancashire User Forum we are one, united in the vision of working together and moving forward.’

Kerry Stewart, Building Recovery in Communities coordinator

‘It was a great day of unity with service users and services coming together. I’m looking forward to the World Service User conference, organised by DDN. There was some great feedback from peers throughout the day, in particular a group from Northern Ireland that are rolling out naloxone training and have set up a recovery café.’

Neil, Swanswell SU

‘I’m new to all this but I was completely blown away that everyone was working together, service users and services, to combat addiction.’ 

Adam, Swanswell SU

‘It was a good experience to walk around and see the different stands on the day… there’s such a lot of people out there who have had substance misuse problems. There were many organisations on the day, too many to remember, but they started from sheltered accommodation to drop-in centres for people to have something to eat, meet people and get them off the streets. We agreed it was important for people to know that, because some people go through bad periods in life, they’re not just pushed aside and forgotten.’ 

Eamon, Swanswell SU

‘The LUF guys were really inspiring. Seeing the way that they have a voice, and how they engage with local services, makes us determined to move our local forum on to the next level.’

Mel Birkill, Datus 

‘I loved meeting all the different groups from all over the country, and being able to share people’s recovery. An event like that gives you a boost and makes you want to carry on. There are more people in recovery, who we hope will inspire others to join us. It just seems to be getting better and better.’

Stephen Williams, peer mentor, CAIS

‘The conference was invigorating, and really enthused me. It was really informative and we met loads of people that I hope to stay in touch with. The workshop on setting up and running a group was great and reinforced our belief that what we are doing here is right. All of this and a free massage too!’

Robert Howarth, New Roots Drop-in Centre, Cumbria

‘It was a great day. To hear the news from all of the different groups, and see all the stuff that they have going on like bands and choirs made us want to work to incorporate stuff like that within our group. There was a real attitude of everyone working together, sharing not competing.’

Steve Dixon, Changes, Birmingham

‘The DDN conference was a great place to meet other forum users from all over the country and to connect with some fabulous people that we would otherwise not have had a chance to meet. It was informative and we heard some very inspirational life journeys. We want to continue with the success we are achieving and attract others into recovery and show that recovery is achievable, sustainable and clearly visible.’

Rose Latham, Red Rose Recovery and member of Lancashire User Forum (LUF)

‘The place was buzzing like a bee hive, building their homes and lives for the future. It was absolutely brilliant to experience. It was a little scary at first, meeting so many people – over 500 people attended the event. Off I went, mooching and mingling, doing the advertising and promoting thing. I had so much fun meeting so many new faces and a few people I had already met and interviewed for UK Recovery Radio.

Over lunch we were blessed with a service user-led group who performed some well-known songs and gave us a relaxing and fun atmosphere. We then had a mad flash-mob dance organised by SUGAR – me and Humphrey plus about 20 others decided to get up and have a go. There was definitely murder on the dance floor… we were just stomping on each other’s feet… it was brilliant.’

Jaine Mason, UK Recovery Radio rep and SU rep