My name is Sue and I’m an addict in recovery. After 32 years of active addiction I am now finally abstinent and I have been for 11 months
I managed to do this with the help of The Corner (part of The Basement Recovery Project) recovery programme and going to fellowship meetings (NA), both of which I’d never heard of 12 months ago. About 10 months ago whilst at The Corner I was asked if I would like to attend a meeting about the ‘multiple and complex needs project’.
When I asked what it was, I was just told it would be good for my recovery, and to be honest, at that time I was absolutely broken, confused, lacking in confidence and terrified of going back to using. I was one month clean and I had seen a glimmer of hope. If I had been told I would be able to stay clean if I had stripped off and stood on my head in The Corner I would have done it!
I went along to the meeting at Basement House in Halifax where I met other service users from around the region and people from DISC (who were managing the project on behalf of West Yorkshire). The person who had the biggest impact on me was Gary Stainforth from Hidden Voices magazine. Gary shared his story with us. He is an amazing and inspirational guy. His passion for recovery shone through. I knew I was in the right place – these people wanted to make a difference and I had been given an opportunity to help. Another thing that stood out to me at that first meeting was that they listened to what people with chaotic lives needed, they called us (the service users) experts by experience, and asked for our advice. We, the experts, then helped design the questionnaires, and after some training, took to the streets in pairs and interviewed people who met the criteria.
The information we came back with was then analysed and presented in the Big Lottery Fund project plan for West Yorkshire. I have continued to go along to meetings about the design of the project and even had a say in the naming of the WY-FI Project (West Yorkshire Finding Independence) and its logo. I attend Locality Group meetings, Regional Expert Meetings and Core Partnership Management Board Meetings.
It has done wonders for my confidence, at only 68 days clean I was asked to do a presentation at St. Georges centre in Leeds, I was well out of my comfort zone, but with encouragement from the people at DISC, I did it. Having a purpose and being trusted helps me to stay clean. I was also given the chance to go to London to do media training and learnt a lot about story telling through blogging, documentaries and photography, that’s the reason I’m writing this now!
More recently I have been involved in such an exciting and different way of helping people with chaotic lives. I have been where they are now; homeless, prison, probation, addicted to drugs and suffering with drug induced psychosis and depression as have most of the Experts by Experience. To sum up the WY-FI project in a sentence I would say it is a service designed by people in recovery for people looking for recovery (though they may not actually know it).
The Big Lottery Fund project, “Fulfilling Lives: Supporting people with multiple needs” is an eight-year national investment of up to £112 million aimed at people with multiple needs – individuals who are experiencing at least two of the following; homelessness, re-offending, problematic substance misuse and mental ill health. The problem these people encounter are far too complex for any one service, such as housing, probation, drug treatment etc. to fix on its own. This is why we need to guide and connect services so people with multiple needs and their friends and families get the help they need to live peaceful and fulfilling lives. There are about 2,425 people in West Yorkshire classed as having multiple problems.
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 7