Back in August 2011 and in our very first issue of RecoveryTimes, we announced TBRP had received a five-year grant from the Big Lottery Fund to help us expand our successful and pioneering Calderdale services across into Kirklees. As we approach the end of Year 5, we look back in pride at the distance travelled and the learning undertaken as we have, over time, redesigned service provision across the Kirklees area.
We started out as a small breakfast club, operating from a small corner unit within the Sikh Leisure Centre which became known locally and affectionately as “The Corner”. From our humble beginnings, we have not only met almost all of the outcomes agreed for the project but have ensured our organisation’s continued presence and growth having successfully tendered for the provision of substance/alcohol misuse service provision alongside our partners in Kirklees. Our hopes at the outset of the process have now been actualised:
We have developed two dedicated recovery centres across Kirklees for people in recovery. Our sites in Dewsbury (Union House) and Huddersfield (Union Bank) have been developed and designed with the wider community in mind and we are engaging with a number of groups from across the social care sector. The mobilisation of the centres is more than we anticipated when we embarked upon this journey and the recovery community of Kirklees now has a permanent home as their growth continues.
Our structured programmes now run comprehensively across both sites with well over 600 people attending the programmes. Around 100 people so far have become abstinent as a result of their engagement. When we look at costs for alcohol and drug addiction to society alone, huge savings are being made in the local area.
We have created a pathway for people recovering to further themselves through education, employment and training both in our organisation and through the networks we have developed across Kirklees.
The five-year Big Lottery Fund project has provided us with an opportunity for us to continue our learning. We created a system-wide change by building a recovery-oriented system of care (ROSC) for drug and alcohol users across the Kirklees area. From the outset of the project in 2011 we have attempted to not only establish a recovery culture but also aimed to improve the opportunities for individuals to sustain recovery locally by effective community engagement. We have shared our learning through feedback to local commissioners. The design of services and our approach has now been embedded in the redesign of the system with which we are now involved in delivering.
One unexpected outcome of the project has been our ability to sustain two ‘grassroots’ centres. By offering vital and meaningful services anchored in the heart of the community, we have created the opportunity for both the statutory partners and the recovery community to share space and offer a greater level of visibility with more flexible opening hours. Significantly, the hubs have provided more dignity and discretion for clients and a more ambitious setting to improve the outcomes for recovery. We believe it will provide a sense of ownership for our stakeholders. Having taken the first steps in forming a recovery community, we believe the next step is to ‘organise’ the community. We hope to continue to demonstrate to the local area and the wider community that people in recovery do exist; we hold jobs, we pay taxes, we raise families and we have a voice.
Though the groundwork has been developed, we will continue to support the emergence of a vibrant and visible recovery community by bringing together previously fragmented and isolated individuals, groups and professionals. The establishment of our dedicated recovery hubs will not only ensure that individuals can maintain their recovery in Kirklees but will become examples for others to follow.
Our work has certainly been successful in challenging the existing system and bringing about the changes required to establish a recovery culture in the area. We offer a fundamental and radical reorientation of how we view the resolution process from addiction. Opportunities are now available for individuals to sustain recovery locally by effective community engagement in Kirklees. Other services across the system have re-evaluated their working methods due to the challenge we have presented. Our hope is that what we have created in the area has produced a visible recovery community by which recovering substance users can call their own.
By sharing our experience and best practice, and working in partnership with other stakeholders, we have provided support in which all can have confidence. Fundamentally the recovery agenda for us all is about hope; it is about giving communities ownership of their own problems and resolution and recognising that our roles are to provide some expertise, but primarily to act as guides and coordinators of recovery journeys. We believe we have inspired the belief that recovery is possible, established a partnership between the client and the worker to facilitate that change, mobilised recovery supports within the client’s natural environment, and link the client to those community resources.
A lasting legacy
The lasting legacy from the Big Lottery Fund project can be seen in the fact that during the last year we have now become fully integrated in the delivery of local provision for substance users. We are now integral to the local partnership’s strategic recovery pathway though our plans are to continue to develop the community as a self-sustaining entity. Certainly, the purchase of a dedicated centre in Huddersfield ensures our sustainability and we have received a phenomenal amount of interest from across the local community. The overarching plan is to continue the pursuit of TBRP’s ethos, ‘dig, develop and devolve’ which corresponds with the general principles of recovery; hope, community and empowerment. Fundamentally, the recovery agenda for us all is about giving communities ownership of their own problems and resolution. It is about recognising that our roles are to provide some expertise, but primarily to act as guides and coordinators of recovery journeys.
As part of this project, TBRP will continue to support the development of Kirklees in Recovery, who are a user-led grass-roots organisation made up of local people in recovery, some who have been through the treatment systems and others from local mutual aid wishing to give back.
By mobilising recovery assets in the individuals’ natural environment, we have seen a direct correlation between the numbers of visible individuals in recovery coming through our programme and a growth in the mutual aid/recovery community. This, in turn, delivers exceptional value for money as people do not return through the treatment system. Since 2012 the growth of mutual aid has increased three-fold with new NA/AA/CA meetings, SMART and Al-anon meetings coming to the area.