We welcome your letters…
Please email them to the editor, firstname.lastname@example.org or post them to the address on page 3. Letters may be edited for space or clarity – please limit submissions to 350 words.
My past is still being held against me, even though I am over 15 years clean. I am 45 years old now, but without going into my life story in detail, I spent years in care, have been homeless and have been through domestic violence.
I had a problem with drugs until I was 30 years old and got myself a criminal record. I brought up my two sons through this, who have turned out to be lovely young men – my oldest won an award four years ago for the work he does with kids, teaching them street dance and break dancing; my younger son works full time.
I have worked for the last six years in a local homeless hostel, helping the most vulnerable of people, and have completed many courses including my Health and Social Care NVQ3.
I recently applied for a job as a drug and alcohol practitioner with a local service. Before I could start the post I was to undertake an enhanced CRB check, which the employers were fine with as the offences were historic – most were committed between 1994 and 1998 and one other in 2000.
I was also subject to police vetting as my post would need me to enter the cells in the police station. I received a letter from the police vetting office telling me I failed the vetting due to my convictions, even though they were so long ago. With the police vetting there is no appeal process so I do not get to plead my case and tell them what I have done since those convictions. So really, what my local police are saying is that people don’t change.
I now cannot take up the job in the field I would like to get into – it would be good to use my past to help others.
Name and address supplied
The letter entitled Comedy Turn? by Molly Cochrane contained not one piece of information on the respective positions of those who appeared on Newsnight (DDN, January, page 13). It just served to denigrate Eliot Albers and INPUD as a whole, who are not just pushing for legalisation but also bring harm reduction work to countries where drug users are arrested, imprisoned and executed for possessing small amounts of drugs and also just for possessing drug-taking paraphernalia.
Peter Simonson, by email
Planning for the 5th UK Recovery Walk is underway, this year hosted by Birmingham. With the support of the UK Recovery Federation, the steering group committee has been formed and planning groups are meeting regularly. There is a lot to be done of course, and we are looking for people and services from across the UK to support the event.
This year we would like to extend the welcome not just to those affected by dependency on substances, but also to make the walk inclusive for people to celebrate their recovery from other forms of addiction, and related health conditions such as HIV and mental health – all of which lead to stigma in society.
There will be entertainment for all ages on the day and we’re looking to see how we can show off the great skills and resources there already are within the recovery community. We’re open to all ideas so please engage with us on our social media pages below. We’ll be promoting to the walk at the DDN conference on 14 February, by which time the September date and route should be confirmed.
Building on the success of previous years we hope to be able to continue the legacy and make 2013 brilliant in Brum! You can see the event on Facebook (search ‘The 5th UK Recovery Walk’) and follow the updates on Twitter @UKRW2013
Stacey Smith, communications lead, The 5th UK Recovery Walk, @StaceInspire