A new peer-led community centre is opening in Leeds, to offer ongoing support to those recovering from alcohol and drug use as well as families, friends and carers. The Recovery Academy is housed in a converted chapel, purchased by the charity Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities (DISC), the lead delivery partner of Forward Leeds.
Hosting a variety of activities, groups and classes, ranging from IT and employment training to yoga, cooking and gardening, the centre will focus on developing skills, education, volunteering and finding employment, alongside encouraging people to develop social enterprise initiatives.
‘It is really important to have role models when you are in recovery, to be able to see other people who have been through it and have been successful in integrating into their communities again,’ said Carla Carr, recovery champion for Forward Leeds, and in recovery herself.
Veterans’ champion wins ‘trailblazer’ award
Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, co-founder of Tom Harrison House – the UK’s first addiction treatment centre for military veterans – has been presented with an award as an ‘innovative iconic trailblazer of the decade’.
The ceremony took place at the Women Economic Forum in New Delhi – a global event with speakers from 109 countries – where Ms Johnston-Lynch was ‘hugely proud’ to collect her award.
‘I think being from Liverpool makes me a trailblazer,’ she said. ‘Tom Harrison House continues to be of service to so many, it has been great to showcase our service in India amongst so many top politicians and international dignitaries.’
Project sunflower ready to bloom
An innovative new enterprise is being set up by two women-only residential rehabilitation centres, with a £600,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
The other part of the project, designed in collaboration with service users from both units, is to help the women set up a craft-based social enterprise.
‘We have been running a therapeutic craft group for two years and the women have made some amazing things,’ said Hannah Shead, CEO of Trevi House. ‘We now want to move it to the next stage and take some of our products to market. With the money that we make, we can go on to help women as they leave treatment and are setting up home for themselves.
‘Life is extremely tough for women and their children when they complete their residential rehab and return to the community,’ she added. ‘Project Sunflower will really make a difference.
Money from the project will be used to train peer mentors, help women to access work placements and provide enhanced support when they leave treatment.
Leeds takes legal highs campaign to young people
A campaign has been launched by health experts in Leeds to raise awareness of the potentially deadly risks posed by legal highs, as the Psychoactive Substances Act became law last month. Teaming up with enforcement agencies, the city’s drug and alcohol service, Forward Leeds, launched the Illegal Highs – Not For Human Consumption to raise awareness across the city, particularly throughout hot spots for young adults, such as near colleges and universities, leisure centres and in cinemas.
‘There is a real need to communicate both the change in legislation and the health risks to people in Leeds, especially young adults,’ said councillor Lisa Mulherin, chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board. ‘I am delighted organisations are working closely across the city to help this campaign make people think twice about taking these drugs.’
Adam Shepherd, welfare adviser at Leeds Trinity students’ union welcomed the campaign as an ‘excellent opportunity’ to communicate risks and harms. ‘A number of students have been using laughing gas so it is important to make them aware of the new legal risks associated with psychoactive substances as well as the health risks,’ he said.
Devon offers a cuppa and a listening ear
Devon’s first permanent recovery café has opened its doors to people needing support with alcohol and drug problems.
The café, based at Rise Recovery, is manned by volunteers, recovery champions and peer supporters who are ready to offer advice to anyone interested in recovery, whether for themselves or a loved one.
Rise staff won the café’s kitchen in a competition from Six System Kitchens. ‘A relatively small gesture for us will offer so much more for others’ said System Six CEO Ian Foster, who officially opened the café. ‘Everyone is so passionate about recovery and people in recovery. It isn’t just a job for these guys.’
‘This is about making recovery visible to everyone, to show that it is not just possible but positive’, added Exeter RISE manager, Dave Leeman. ‘Getting the right support changes lives and at RISE that means not just talking to our staff, but building a network of people and becoming part of the thriving, vibrant recovery community that exists here.
Give a mouse a house
Through a partnership with conservation charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), men from both prison sites have built 10,963 dormouse nesting boxes as part of PTES and Natural England’s National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP).
Hazel dormice numbers have fallen dramatically over the last century, but through installing the nest boxes changes in population can be observed, as well as providing the mice with a much needed alternative habitat.
‘We approached PTES about this partnership as we wanted to allow our men the opportunity to give something back, as well as helping to save the hazel dormouse from extinction,’ said Ian Telfer, governor at HMP Humber, adding that the prison was very proud to receive the Judges Gold Commendation Award at the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Wildlife Awards last month.