Speaker Biographies



Steve Brinksman, GP

Dr Steve Brinksman has been a GP in Birmingham for the past 20 years and is the clinical lead for the Substance Misuse Management in General Practice network (SMMGP), working alongside drug and alcohol users since the start of his career. He is also DDN magazine’s regular ‘Post-its from Practice’ columnist.

Steve’s career has included working in adult and young person’s community drug teams and he was one of two lead GPs in substance misuse employed by Birmingham’s DAT to develop the city’s highly successful primary care based drug treatment model. He is the DAAT’s alcohol lead for primary care and the RCGP’s regional lead in substance misuse for the West Midlands since 2004.

He will bring his wealth of experience to a presentation on a ‘GP’s perspective of families affected by drug and alcohol issues’.


Jason Gough, Patient Opinion

Jason Gough is engagement and support officer for Patient Opinion – www.patientopinion.org.uk – the first independent, national patient feedback system in the UK, which aims to harness the experience of service users and carers to transform healthcare.

Jason has extensive experience from working with recovery and mental health services. He is harnessing his experiences and empowering others to do the same, to help change policy and practice.

Listening to carers and understanding their needs is essential to supporting the goals of a recovery system, and Jason’s workshop ‘Levelling the playing field’ will introduce carers to using the Patient Opinion website as a public platform for their issues and giving constructive feedback.


Niki Durosaro, Release

Niki Durosaro qualified as a social welfare solicitor in May 2011 having completed a two year training contract at Law For All which was, at the time, the UK’s largest not-for-profit social welfare law firm. Niki then went on to work for Release which is a national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law providing free and confidential specialist advice to the public and professionals. Release also campaigns for changes to UK drug policy to bring about a fairer and more compassionate legal framework to manage drug use in our society.
Niki is responsible for providing Housing, Debt and Welfare Benefits Law advice. She attends several drugs clinics in London every week and provides advice to vulnerable adults with problems relating to drug and alcohol dependency, mental and physical health. She represents clients at social welfare tribunals and is passionate about ensuring that vulnerable individuals receive the support they need and access the benefits to which they are entitled.


 Hannah Shead, Trevi House

Hannah Shead’s family workshop will draw on extensive experience of Trevi House – a unique service in Plymouth where children can come and live with their mums, enabling them both to get the support and care that they need to begin the recovery journey from addiction/domestic abuse.

This very interactive workshop will give insight into work at Trevi, where the concept of family underpins everything. The service’s aim is to enhance the relationship between mother and child while addressing complex problems with drugs and alcohol.

Hannah will share some unique services and examples of good practice of working with families, and participants will be given the opportunity to design their own community based family service.


 Christine Tebano, Parent Support Link

Christine Tebano is a founder member and now manager of Parent Support Link (PSL) and will give her personal perspective of setting up a family support service. She has been working with the charity since its conception in 1994, first as a volunteer and now a member of staff.

In her presentation Christine will explain how the group started and take you through the process of setting up such an organisation, from finding premises and funding to how to consult with family members. Through sharing PSL’s own journey she will give practical guidelines including the essential process of monitoring outcomes.


Jennifer Upperdine, Swanswell

Jennifer Upperdine is senior practitioner for Swanswell’s Barnsley carer support service and will be leading the session ‘Tough Love – is it easier said than done?’ As an ex heroin and crack user who became homeless and received custodial sentences, and later on as a carer herself, Jennifer fully understands the devastating impact misuse can have on carers. In 2004 she became the service user involvement and strategic development officer for her local DAAT, before joining Swanswell’s carer support team.

Jennifer’s session will give practical advice breaking the hold alcohol and drugs can have on the entire family. She will show how through some practical pointers, families can feel empowered to change the situation and help the person they care about as well as themselves.


Paul Hayes, National Treatment Agency

Paul has been chief executive of the NTA since its creation in 2001, advising ministers and senior officials in the Department of Health and Home Office about issues relating to the provision of drug treatment and recovery in England. Before joining the NTA Paul worked for the Probation Service for more than 20 years. As lead advisor to the NTA Board and leader of the senior management team that implements the agency’s work programme, he is perfectly placed to give an overview of policy affecting family services.


Professor Alex Copello, researcher and psychologist

Alex Copello is Professor of Addiction Research at The School of Psychology, University of Birmingham and consultant clinical psychologist with the Birmingham and Solihull NHS Foundation Trust addiction services, where he leads the addictions research and innovation programme. Acknowledging that the impact of alcohol and drug use on the family is significant, he will talk about the experience and evidence relating to the impact of drug use on families and look at how stress can be reduced through support interventions.


Karen Biggs, Phoenix House

Karen Biggs, chief executive of Phoenix House since 2007, will examine how treatment services provide support for families.

Phoenix Futures delivers recovery services for people with problematic drug and alcohol use, operating in prison and community settings across England and Scotland. The charity’s unique approach is informed by its origins as a self-help organisation and is rooted in its commitment to empowering people with problematic substance misuses to take control of their own recovery.

Before joining Phoenix, Karen worked with the housing sector for support and general needs housing organisations.