18 months of training with a group of 10 very motivated and hard working runners. All from disadvantaged backgrounds. One fantastic trainer, ex-professional international rugby player, Damian Gibson (DG Ozfit), who was actually one of this year’s local heroes. As a team, we were privileged enough to represent the “Home Run Project” team in the promotional video which was partly aired on the BBC.
If you have been watching Grayson Perry’s ‘Rites of Passage’ on Channel 4, you may have seen Allen featured in episode 4 ‘Coming of Age’. The programme didn’t have time to explore why people ended up at The Basement Recovery Project and focused on the celebration of recovery. Allen’s account of his relationship with alcohol is raw, unedited and told in his own words. Thank you, Allen, for allowing us to share your story with the wider community.
Grayson Perry explores coming of age which starts with his visit to the Amazon where he witnesses the Tikuna people celebrate the transition of two girls to adulthood. Thankfully, we don’t do that here and he’s not suggesting we do, but he does think we can take something from it. He’s even more convinced after talking to London teens and people in recovery at The Basement Project (who he describes as “kidults”) – older people who can’t take responsibility for themselves or their lives. He sees both groups as reaching the end of one stage of their life and beginning another and wants to mark that in a celebration, something we don’t do enough of in recovery circles.
In this episode, Grayson explores coming of age which starts with his visit to the Amazon where he witnesses the Tikuna people celebrate the transition of two girls to adulthood. Thankfully, we don’t do that here and he’s not suggesting we do, but he does think we can take something from it. He’s even more convinced after talking to London teens and people in recovery at The Basement Project (who he describes as “kidults”) – older people who can’t take responsibility for themselves or their lives. He sees both groups as reaching the end of one stage of their life and beginning another and wants to mark that in a celebration, something we don’t do enough of in recovery circles.
Fiona’s story briefly touches on the struggles and consequences of addiction and you’ll see why we need to celebrate when we ‘come out the other side’.
I’ve just got back from a great walk up Mount Snowdon, alongside 12 friends and the fantastic staff of Activate. At first, when I was asked to do the walk, the usual questions came to the fore – What will I need to wear, can I do it in jeans, etc. The trip was specifically to see the sun setting over Snowdonia…
In the summer I had the pleasure of attending an open day for the Basement Project. It was a day to support and raise funds for the amazing work that these guys are doing – opening new doors for people trying to overcome alcohol and substance abuse. I could not believe my luck when I was told I had won tickets to see the XFactor semi-finals live in London! Having watched it religiously on TV for years, it was just a phenomenal experience to be there and witness it all first hand. Thanks to our ‘VIP status’ for the night, we were escorted to the backstage bar where we brushed shoulders with some of the stars but meeting the man behind the voiceover was definitely the highlight. The show itself was simply fantastic, from the first class seats with a perfect view of Mr. Cowell to the impressive lighting and sound and watching the brilliant cameramen working their magic. After the show, we returned to the bar where we took more photos including some with the contestants. Perfect end to a perfect evening. Thanks so much again to the Basement Project for this fantastic opportunity and keep up the great work guys!!
Have a great Christmas and New Year and many thanks once again.
Although the title may suggest a romantic story, other than a good sense of unity support and a few laughs, for me, it was quite the opposite. It was an eye-opening stark reminder of what might have been if I had continued on the road I was travelling.
My son Luke and I arrived at the Shay Stadium at approx. 8:10pm. We were one of the first people to arrive, so we promptly found a bed for the night. We sat down on the shockingly cold concrete steps and were soon joined by our fellow campers; Kev, Fiona and their son Harrison (who is the same age as Luke, so they had some likeminded company other than myself – though I’m told I often act like a 12 year old). Paul and Gerald joined us soon after.
We settled in for the night, having great banter and some quite deep discussions … regarding addiction, would you believe?
The temperature was clearly dropping and after some sleeping bag malfunctions, we were witness to a speech from a SmartMove employee whose name escapes me, about just why we were all there and where the money goes and the difference we can make in people’s lives by simply attending events like this.
Quite a few people turned up although the numbers dwindled in the early hours. TBRP stood strong and finished the job. A lot of people couldn’t sleep and stayed up all night listening to music played by a talented gentleman and his guitar. Our very own Fiona couldn’t sleep because of the sounds of our snoring echoing around the stadium.
We left at 6:30am after breakfast was offered. On arriving home, I went straight to bed and tried getting some heat into my frozen aching body. Our night was just a small insight into the harsh reality of homelessness. We were dripped on, frozen, had aching bodies and had intermittent sleep in the space of 9 hours. We were glad to get home!
I cannot imagine having to do this every day, all day, not knowing where I will sleep or what I would eat, invisible to passers-by, being isolated, yet surrounded by others going about their daily routines.
I really hope our small donation of our time and your sponsorship makes a difference in someone’s life. Thanks to Luke, Fiona, Kev, Harrison, Jed and Paul for a great night and an experience I won’t forget. You can continue to donate to SmartMove via their Localgiving page.
Same time next year?
The Basement Recovery Project is and has been an invaluable source of friendship and support not just for my partner as he found his feet in recovery but for the whole family throughout and beyond.
On Friday 15th September 2017, 14 members of the local recovery community will be coming together to cycle 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington over the course of four days. Those taking part have been training for a number of months; prior to which they had little or no experience of cycling any significant distance…
Before coming into recovery my Friday night’s and Saturday mornings would have been spent either watching some rubbish on TV or just wishing the hours away with a book or DVD. Each day was basically a case of existence and reduction of my medication with loads of self-pity thrown in.
Yet in recovery I was asked if I wanted to go ‘Wild Camping’ for 24 hours which involved walking up Pendle Hill and sleeping in the wilds with just a bivvy bag, sleeping bag to lie in and a waterproof camouflage sheet (tied at each corner with rope on to a tree/branch on an incline) to keep the wind and rain off.
At first, I thought they were mad – but I agreed to go and it turned out to be a fantastic experience – although trudging up that hill in a downpour was hard going. I found it really tough on my legs since they have spent more time static than in motion. Yet I can honestly say that the ribbing of each other kept us either laughing. We had a smile on our faces from start to finish.
The views from the top of Pendle Hill, once the rain had stopped, were eye catching – valleys and beautiful countryside for as far as my eyes could see; unspoilt by council estates and housing.
On the Saturday morning, we all had a brew and packed everything away so there no signs of our stay left. Our litter was burned or thrown back into our rucksacks. This time, on the return journey, we hiked around the base of the hill and again the jokes, ribbing and laughter flowed.
I’d like to pick out one of the really funny bits. I could say it was when one of one of the girl’s feet sank into the wet, muddy ground and out came her foot minus her boot. Or when the boss was in her basher (our improvised tent) and she put a net bag over her head (I think maybe it was to keep slugs off – but to be honest she looked hilarious). It’s hard to pick one highlight because it was the whole experience and the slightly mad humour of those that I shared the trip with that was just fantastic.
It was hard going for me but I kept going and completed it, thanks to all who came, for their mental humour, fantastic outlook and the camaraderie.
So, anyone reading this who has been considering any form of recovery activity – I say do it!
You will love the experience and laughter plus all the care and consideration of your fellows and staff in recovery. I was all for dodging activities – but no more! Let the games begin as I will be there and so should you be.
Also, some massive thanks have to go out to Graham, Wayne and John from Activate who led us on this hike and shared their experiences of how to camp out in the wild and leave no footprint! Thank you, to everyone involved!
“I’ll always be proud of him”, says young woman who skydived in father’s memory.
Abi Mae Haley’s father sadly passed away in 2014, shortly before her 15th birthday. He had struggled with alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, though he had started to turn his life around, the illness had already taken its toll. Abi recently completed a sponsored skydive to raise funds and awareness of addiction and where to get help.
“Kirklees in Recovery worked with my dad to plan the best road to recovery. I honestly saw a change in him in such a short period of time, a change so good that he started to plan for his future again. Maybe, just maybe, if he had found this place of support sooner, things would be different.
Before Dad passed away I was sent a video of him training to do a sky dive. I looked at this frequently and I could see that he was, at last, doing something that made him happy. That’s where I got the idea to raise awareness of the place that helped him, and to finish something that he started.
I take my hat off to the people working at Kirklees in Recovery as I know first-hand some of the difficulties they must face every day, but I also know how amazing it is to see the small improvements in the people they work with”.
On Father’s Day, Sunday 18th June, Abi Mae completed the skydive her dad had been training for. She set up a crowdfunding page and reached her £500 target.
“I was terrified at the thought of doing a skydive, but like many of those who suffer from addiction, I faced my fears and the result was amazing. The money I donate to Kirklees in Recovery will go towards making a difference to the lives of those who they help; from providing the smallest of things like a cup of tea and a friendly chat to helping to support their recovery programmes which can be the difference between recovery and relapse. Helping Kirklees in Recovery can also help to provide extra services in more rural communities, reaching out to those who are most isolated in our local areas.
I never thought I would lose my dad as soon as I did, but I will always be so proud of the man he was and I hope that I am making him proud now by inheriting his strong and positive outlook in life, and by making the most of what I have now. I chose to donate to Kirklees in Recovery because even the smallest amount of money could make a difference to someone’s life, as well as their families and friends”.
September is National Recovery Month and Kirklees in Recovery started celebrating by walking from their Dewsbury recovery hub to the Huddersfield hub on 1st September where Abi presented a cheque for £717.
Event organiser, Sheena West, said,
“Recovery Month is to raise awareness of addiction, to help reduce the stigma surrounding it and to let people know there is help. Everyone knows someone who knows someone affected by addiction, yet we all try to ignore it because we don’t know how to help. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a serious illness and many people have no idea that you can recover and lead a better life, free from the need or desire to use any mood-altering substance.
We have been amazed at Abi Mae’s fundraising. She has shown a strong and positive attitude at such a difficult time in her life and she is an inspiration to all of us. She has truly done a wonderful thing and I know her dad would be very proud indeed. Her generosity will directly help those with addiction issues. She is always welcome at our project and we wish her every success in her future”.
With thanks and much love from us all at KiR x
Abi’s story was also covered in The Huddersfield Daily Examiner
I had heard of Tough Mudder before, but I can’t say it is something I would have given much thought to in the past. To be perfectly honest, in the past, I was far too consumed by paranoia and self-pity to even consider the idea that Tough Mudder was something I could complete or that it was something that I would actually enjoy doing! When I was still actively using drugs and had not yet found recovery, there was absolutely no chance that it was something I would have done.
Tough Mudder is a brilliant team building event. It is exhilarating and fun. It tests your physical and mental abilities. It is about twelve miles long with about twenty obstacles along the way. Some of the obstacles included electrocution, others jumping into ice cold water and then there were the ones where you had to climb and have the strength to get over them – as well as helping others to get around the course!
I was actually pretty excited when I was asked if I wanted to take part with eleven others from Calderdale in Recovery. Through taking part in few activities since coming into recovery I am (slowly but surely!) learning to overcome any anxieties that I may have around them and just get involved! I am yet to regret it and usually end up really enjoying myself!
The whole day was funny from the minute we got on the mini bus. Jo doing her usual live feeds and Chris putting his heart in soul into singing along to a Vanessa May song!
There are quite a few moments that stood out. It was nice that I was able to help some of the others get around some of the obstacles and it was lovely how grateful they were for my help. There were also moments when I needed help myself – and I was surrounded by fantastic people to support me, all of whom just wanted to make sure that we all made it round. I felt part of a great team; it was a real bonding experience.
At one point, we reached a section called ‘mud mile’ – where you had to clamber over big mounds of mud and through water. They were blasting out ‘Gangham Style’ through the speakers. I turned around to see Jo and Sam dancing away (whilst all the other people around us were looking pretty serious and drained at this point). Next Kev started dancing and I couldn’t help but join in. Every time we got to the top of one the mounds we stopped and danced. I think everyone else thought we were mad – but it was a right laugh. Looking back at the video of this makes me smile and it’ll definitely be a happy memory that stays with me!
I also had loads of fun play fighting in the mud with Jay and Sy. They might take any opportunity to take the mickey – which is usually funny – but I knew that if I needed support at any point doing the obstacles they would be there to help me if they could.
At the end of the day and even still now looking back on it I feel quite proud of myself. I was absolutely shattered at the end of it – but in a good way, like I had achieved something!
If anyone was thinking about getting involved with any of the Calderdale in Recovery activities but were unsure I would encourage them to do it;
Don’t hesitate – life is for living innit!
Saturday 12th August saw a great plan come together at the Kirklees in Recovery Summer Family Day Event, held at Union Bank in Huddersfield.
The event was organised by the KiR steering committee with the help of many volunteers, family members and Haven. Our aim – to remain close to our constitutional aims and objectives – raising awareness of recovery and helping to reduce the stigma associated with addictions, and of course, to raise a little money along the way.
We had a variety of games and stalls to keep people occupied. Prizes and food were sourced by our ever-growing community of organisations that support Kirklees in Recovery which made for a great raffle and tombola.
We were also supported on the day by members of Halifax Bank who promised to match fund our first £500. Gillian really got into the spirit (and swing) of things when she took part in the dance lesson, kindly facilitated by Curly Wurly Dance Studios.
The highlight of the day, of course, was watching the families enjoy themselves, the children (and a few adults) had a ball with Peppa Pig and Iggle Piggle and the various activities on offer.
It was heart-warming to hear one girl say, “I’m looking forward to moving back in with my mum”, knowing that she has her mum back for good.
The feedback from everyone involved was great and we also noticed more of the general public and other communities getting involved.
Our thanks go to everyone who helped, attended and made the day special, we raised a terrific £1400.
Of special note, we must thank Halifax Bank, for not only match funding £500 but for also presenting a cheque for £5000 to help develop our planned café at Union Bank. Plans are well underway and we will bring more news soon. Our support from the Bank also extended to them helping us to enhance our digital skills, a massive thank you to James Stott.
This is what James had to say about the project:
“I must say on a personal level, I was touched and admired the amazing work you and the volunteers do. You are all genuinely inspiring people and I often read about people’s personal struggles but to see it first hand and hear/see what you do took it to a whole new level. I see situations at work where people react to something as if it is life or death when in fact it is minor in the grand scheme of things but to see the job you do is literally life or death for people puts things into perspective and is something I took away from spending a few hours with you and the team. Genuinely – thank you and great work”.
Thank you, everyone!
A few weeks ago, I went on a weekend trip to Ingleton with friends from Calderdale in Recovery. We were also joined by people from Kirklees in Recovery – which was nice as I got the chance to make new friends. We stayed at a place called ‘Pinecroft’ in a massive log cabin.
It was a beautiful few days away with some lovely people. We were all blessed with some lovely weather which made it even nicer! I had actually been to Pinecroft before (about two years ago when I was quite early into my recovery). I realise now that back then I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of the nature, the greenery, the waterfalls and the wildlife. This time around, however, I did. This is because whilst being in recovery I have learned to look at the beauty of the things around me in a different way. To appreciate them and to have gratitude.
On Saturday, different groups of people chose to do different things. For me, it was a great day that I will always remember. About ten of us walked to the Ingleton Waterfalls and then walked around them. From start to finish it was fantastic. From walking along and seeing the beauty of the place, eating sandwiches next to the stream and even taking my shoes off and having a paddle, to getting covered in water from a bit of a water fight! It was a good few days in the life of Colin!
Before I came into recovery my weekends would have been so different. I would have spent most of my time isolating indoors. I would only go outside to find ways and means of getting more drugs – like shop lifting or trying to get my sister to give me money. I would never have noticed the beauty of anything around me.
But, thanks to The Basement Recovery Project and Calderdale in Recovery, I no longer need to live that life and now I have the opportunity to take part in lots of different activities that I would never have done before. I would encourage anyone in Recovery to get involved in things like the weekend away staying at Pinecroft. It’s great to socialise with others in recovery who understand what you have been through. The whole experience was good for my mind, body and soul.
(190 miles to go)
Eight hardy souls set off from Halifax on 17th June with the aim of walking from the West Coast (Irish Sea) to the East Coast (North Sea). What were we thinking?
The journey to our starting point, St Bees in Cumbria, was uneventful apart from finding the only petrol station in England with antique pumps. It would have taken less time to fill up if we had drilled for our own crude oil and refined it. Nevertheless we arrived at our destination for about 11ish, dipped our toes in the sea, picked up our pebbles and did one. It is a custom for coast to coast walkers to take a pebble from one coast and throw it in the sea when they arrive at the other.
To the evil demon called speed
The evil fucker I no longer need,
I’m writing this letter; words easy to read,
The message is clear and you’d better take heed.
Problem: Alcohol – over 25 years
Abstinent: 13 months (and counting)
I can see now, after working through all aspects of my recovery, with TBRP and AA that I was born an alcoholic. By that I mean I had a reaction to alcohol that produced the addiction, this ‘ism’ that I now understand and recognise completely as being prevalent in me from an early age; the mental compulsion and, most definitely, the spiritual malady.
September was the 26th International National Recovery Month where we as individuals who have reclaimed our lives can really promote and celebrate the virtues of what being in recovery actually means. We do this not just with each other but by offering ourselves as living proof of recovery, a visible presence of hope to those that still suffer whilst challenging stereotypes, judgements and myths about addiction.
My story featured in RecoveryTimes Issue 3 back in July 2012. I had just come out the other side of a 30 year drug problem, 20 of which was addicted to methadone. I think at that time I had been doing some volunteering and running SMART groups …
As I have continued to get better, my life has too. I started to do more volunteering around the breakfast clubs which take place on a Tuesday and Thursday. I attended training courses on all sorts of subjects including boundaries, safe guarding, recovery, group facilitation etc. I even did a Health and Social Care NVQ level 3 course. I had decided I had something to offer and I really wanted to do more in this field – it felt a natural process. It took a year to do the course.
Quizaoke – Get it wrong, you sing a song!
I was sitting in the office, minding my own business and doing some work on the computer (yes I do do that sometimes!) when one word made my ears prick up, my heart beat faster and had me jumping to my feet. ‘Karaoke’.
Back in the day (before active addiction turned me in to a quivering, self-conscious wreck) Karaoke had been a favourite past time of mine. People tell me I can sing and I have a natural attraction to the limelight. With my confidence returned, thanks to recovery, I was desperate to give it another go!
Myself, Mark C and Rick G got down to Todmorden for nine o’clock with no real idea of what was in store for us. Surprises can go either way but at least you get the suspense to start your nerves going.
When we arrived it was very misty and cold. We made our way to Pollination Street to find out what fate had in store for us. My first thought was to look at the number of tents and gazebo bags and think we must be attempting some kind of record. There was a huge tent that was the first task. The enormity of the situation was further magnified and complicated by the fact that there appeared to be components of more than one huge tent.
Issue 6 of RecoveryTimes we featured an article by Danielle about making amends. We recently caught up with her and ask what she had been up to …
The last time I wrote for RecoveryTimes (Issue6) I concentrated on making amends, the amends I had to make with the local curry house. For me it was also about giving back to the local community I had taken so much from over the years. Well that was about two years ago and in the succeeding two years I learnt that after all the amends I have made (and am constantly making) I needed to make amends to myself.
It was a stunning late summer day as I walked down to Halifax Minster.
Maybe a little nervous and apprehensive but mainly excited that this was happening. This was the first time a service to celebrate recovery had been held in Halifax so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. People seemed keen and this gave me the hope there may be a decent turnout.
The choir had set off down before me and they were in their seats and limbering up by the time I arrived. A couple of sound checks later and they seemed ready for the performance. It must have been a little nervy for them as there was still a while before the service started. It didn’t seem like two minutes later when the Deputy Mayor arrived. I introduced myself and explained what the service was about and then I showed him and his consort to their seats. It was pretty much time for the service to start and as I had been distracted I hadn’t noticed how much the church had filled up. I felt a few butterflies now as I knew I would have to speak in front of everybody before too long. I didn’t want to look behind me and have a proper look at how many had come but I had a fair idea.
IT’S ALL CHANGE IN CALDERDALE WITH A NEW ADULT DRUG AND ALCOHOL SERVICE RECOVERY STEPS AND WE INTERVIEW THOSE INVOLVED…
On 2nd February 2015 a new service started delivering adult drug and alcohol services in Calderdale. A new partnership between DISC, St. Martin’s Health Care and The Basement Recovery Project replaces the Calderdale Substance Misuse Service (CSMS).
We talk to the partner organisations, but firstly, we managed to catch up with
Niamh Cullen from Calderdale Council and Commissioner for services:
Happy Days – Martin’s Room
For the last two “Martin’s Happy Days” events, I have written about them for RecoveryTimes. Trying to find the right words to remember someone so tragically lost and yet, also to celebrate their life is not an easy thing to do. This year, I thought I would ask Mick, Martin’s twin brother, if he would like to say a few words.
And you thought Tough Mudder was tough?
We throw Lee in at the deep end at University of Huddersfield
This is my first time being in recovery and I’m learning new things about myself every day. I do share in meetings but sometimes I get really self-obsessed and struggle to share. So when Heath approached me and asked if I would come along and help him with a presentation he was doing at University of Huddersfield, my first reaction was I can’t do that. Read more