Women recover differently and need space to heal, says Annalice Argyle.
I’m a woman in long-term recovery (13 years) from alcohol, substance misuse and surrounding issues. I am also a mother, daughter, partner and sister – a change-maker, a person with purpose and a social entrepreneur. I’m lucky and privileged enough to be a position to be able to shout about recovery and happy to be a voice for those who don’t have one.
Seven years ago I set up my own grassroots independent advocacy charity, The Recovery Advocates and Consultants UK (TRAC UK) to provide a voice, education, peer advocacy and empowerment. During COVID the service naturally morphed into a safe and supportive place for women to recover for as long as they want to engage. We find that women love the women-only space to establish healthy relationships with themselves and other females who want to reclaim their lives, which can prove to be a very powerful and empowering healing experience.
We are based in Teesside but through our online women-only recovery and wellbeing hybrid hub we work with women nationally and internationally, offering female-orientated paths. We believe that each person will have a different path to recovery and our holistic approach allows us to offer clients choice in their own journeys.
We believe that women recover differently to men. We are not ‘people in recovery’, we are women in recovery who need to be free from shame, stigma and misunderstandings. We need to manage and heal our trauma and have the space to talk about women-specific coexisting issues. We need to be heard and feel safe. Many women have completed our programmes, confidence-building projects and recovery in the community, and are able to confront the barriers they face. We believe that recovery is much more sustainable if the foundations are firmly rooted in their local area with their children and alongside a community of supportive women.
We sustain our charity through an event we set up called WoW – Women Only Wellness – which showcases the many ways to wellness through workshops and healthy food. It’s accessible to all women from the age of 16 as we are passionate about breaking the generational cycle.
We began to be recognised for our work in 2019 when we started winning awards, and TRAC UK has since been a finalist in the prestigious Tees Business Awards, where I won in the ‘inspiring others’ category. Recently we were nominated for a Northern Power Women Award for the second year running and I was shortlisted for a national She Inspires award for the work I do to help women recover.
I was absolutely delighted to be a finalist as even though the nomination is for an individual it raises TRAC UK’s profile, spreading awareness and giving hope to others as well as showcasing the work that we do. Entries came from countries including Denmark, India, South Africa, the US, the UAE, Australia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, as well as from across the UK. The awards offered ‘a special way of recognising truly amazing women from around the world,’ said founder Gulnaz Brennan. With over 2000 nominations in 17 categories, she said it was ‘incredibly challenging’ to draw up the shortlist.
It feels great to be recognised for a job well done. It’s not that we need to be validated but we do believe our work is special and makes huge differences to one of the worst areas for alcohol and drug problems, and where women suffer particular stigma. It’s been an outstanding couple of years for TRAC UK and we continue to go from strength to strength, building our vision of a women’s recovery movement reaching women around the globe and showcasing the many ways to recovery and wellbeing.
It’s the people involved in TRAC UK that deserve the praise – the staff and volunteers today and over the years, and the women and men who are part of our movement wherever they are on their journey and who help to shape the service. The work that goes into ensuring that the service develops and doesn’t stagnate is phenomenal, and the trustees are behind the scenes allowing us to grow and move forward together.
I’ve come a long way and have worked very hard to reclaim my life. I’m proud of that and hope I inspire others to do the same and find a way out their situation.
Annalice Argyle is founder of Lobster Recovery CIC and TRAC UK, www.tracuk.uk
The She Inspires awards are being held on 24 November at Bolton Whites Hotel live and online. More information at sheinspires.org.uk
Portrait photo by Rebecca Marwood Photography