Recovery month 2015

Recovery round-up

Throughout September, thousands of people across the UK got together to celebrate recovery – with fund-raisers, festivals and plenty of fun. DDN gets a glimpse of some of the action.

Getting stronger

With more recovery events taking place than ever before, UKRF founder Alistair Sinclair looks at why UK recovery month is going from strength to strength

On 1 September 2013, around 100 folk climbed Snowdon to mark the beginning of the first UK recovery month. While recovery month has been celebrated in the US for many years, and the UK recovery walks started with a memorial walk in Liverpool in 2009, 2013 was the first year we saw a range of recovery activities all over the UK in September. There were 49 events in 2013, and 2014 saw 102. This year, we’re aware of 166.

Recovery month 2015 kicked off in Manchester at the seventh national UKRF event, where around 250 UK activists gathered to explore the role of recoverists in an ‘age of dislocation’. Thousands of people made recovery visible at recovery walks, around 26 of them across the UK – including walks in Dublin, Glasgow and Durham.

Other communities held family fun days, music festivals, dance events, film nights, harm reduction cafés, plays, sports events, workshops and unity days. One recoverist, Lexi West, set off to climb to Everest Base Camp to raise funds for recovery communities and plant flags for the fallen.

The variety of events in recovery month and the passion behind them was incredible and inspiring. It was a month dedicated to community building and hope. The UKRF believes we all need a month like this – highlighting our similarities as human beings, the core values that connect us and the belief that we can, all of us, recover.

Recovery festival

Walk this way

The UK recovery walk has just completed its seventh year on the trot. Its founder Annemarie Ward talks about how it’s kept up momentum

This year, the annual UK recovery walk was held in Durham, writing another chapter in the history of addiction recovery in the UK. At the recovery, spirituality and families conference in Durham Cathedral the day before the walk, and during the walk itself on Saturday 12 September, we went some way in challenging the social stigma attached to addiction. The UK recovery movement has matured further this year. As in our personal recovery, masks of arrogance and intolerance give way to greater humility and acceptance, and as a movement overall we have celebrated greater unity in strength and experienced greater strength in unity.

There have been many people who have worked tirelessly to make sure recovery month events went off without a hitch. It’s fantastic to see it go from strength to strength. With the conference and the walk in Durham this year, many of the people of the north east got to know, see and feel what recovery is.

As a charity, we are grateful for that, and even more so for how the people of the north east worked with, cared for and loved us. Our sincerest gratitude goes to every single person who played a role in international recovery month.

Going for gold

Neil Firbank of New Beginnings recaps the activities of this year’s recovery games

Wow, did this year’s games really exceed our expectations! We knew, based on the last one, that it would be popular, but I never expected that 25 teams would turn up on the day. That meant in total around 400 competitors took part, battling against each other in a wide variety of events.

The games drew around 300 spectators, from family members and the local community, who were all amazed at the message we were spreading, and hopefully went some way to reducing the stigma faced by those taking part.

The original idea for the games came from watching how the Olympics 2012 really pulled everyone together and ignited a community spirit. I wanted to organise an event that somehow captured that, and showed people that we do get better – that you would never believe that the person next to you could ever have had issues with substances. It also had to be fun.

Eventually, the games drew to a close with five teams facing each other in a grand finale of didicar time trial racing. Active Recovery from Scunthorpe came away the overall winners, and took away the coveted recovery games shield.

The games turned out to be a fantastic day, and we managed to raise over £500 for Aurora, a local cancer respite charity. Watch this space for next year’s recovery games – it can only get bigger and better.

Recovery festival 2

Moving forward

Forward Leeds staff, volunteers and service users also attended the UK recovery walk to meet and connect with the local recovery community. The walk led crowds through the city centre, past Durham Cathedral, and provided live music, stalls and activities – as well as a performance by the UK recovery choir and rap artist Ben SoS Riley.

The Le Tour de Recovery also joined the walk, after cycling to Durham from Leamington Spa. The ride raised money for UK FAVOR, as well as awareness for the importance of communities sustaining recovery.

Festival feeling

Jack Hall of Bristol Drugs Project shares what went down at the third recovery festival

This year’s festival captured its biggest audiences ever, with attendees from recovery communities across the south west.

Established in 2013, the recovery festival is a free annual event that celebrates recovery from addiction by bringing people together to share their strengths, hopes, achievements and, most importantly, their talents.

This year’s festival featured an array of local musicians, as well as fantastic performances by Bristol’s recovery choir Rising Voices and the Bristol Drugs Project theatre group. Topping the line-up were guest speakers Annemarie Ward, founder of the UK recovery walk, and Tony Mercer of Public Health England.

The day featured a selection of great food and refreshments, as well as alternative therapies, taster support groups, and the opportunity to browse the stalls of local communities and services to find out what opportunities are available to people thinking about treatment, or in recovery.

Recovery festival 3