Building Recovery Systems and Communities

“Recovery communities are independent but their creation must have strategic support from those involved in delivering public health outcomes from within the local authority. Recovery communities are not a threat to treatment services but they are, and should always be, independent. Commissioners of new systems need to ensure that recovery communities are sufficiently resourced. Moreover, these resources need to be tied to the most flexible of governance arrangement. If possible a dedicated recovery community centre could be provided. Probably the best UK example of this can be found in Halifax, Calderdale at the Basement Project.”

Mark Gilman, Strategic Recovery Lead for Public Health England


In recent years the idea that recovery from addiction is possible has been inspiring individuals, communities and organisations to explore the benefits that recovery brings to the whole society. The recent ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ outlined the latest national policy intentions to develop a “new treatment system based on recovery” identifying three guiding principles to this system of “wellbeing, citizenship and freedom from dependence”. There is much talk in Public Health circles about Co-Production, Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and the importance of Social Relationships. The national health policy, the economic drivers and the growing evidence base of the benefits of asset-based approaches and co-production as the organising principles create an opportunity to develop local solutions to address this challenge. Undoubtedly the need for recovery oriented care is now widely accepted at all levels. The challenge is how to ensure that commissioners, providers and service users themselves are able to engage effectively with these agendas.

Following our inception in 2006 The Basement Recovery Project (TBRP) has been at the forefront of pioneering new ways of delivering services and developing recovery communities (TBRP) in the Yorkshire area. Through utilizing our model of ‘dig, develop and devolve’ TBRP aspires for people to become community assets, rather than community deficits, and we believe the environments we create are unique in supporting our ambitions for people. Today we would like to share our experience and knowledge with others to help to build communities and new systems across the country.

Workforce Development

The recent drug strategy signalled a fundamental shift in philosophy and emphasis in alcohol and other drug treatment in the direction of a recovery-oriented approach, based on local community and family engagement and the principles of CHIME (Connectedness; Hope; Identity; Meaning; Empowerment). A key change is that statutory health and social care addiction services should not be viewed as the first recourse – rather as a safety net when needs cannot be met in the local community.

TBRP brings together a collective of specialist trainers, consultants and experts in the development of Recovery Communities whose objectives are to share their experience with commissioners, service providers and, most importantly people affected by substance and alcohol misuse to develop pathways, systems and services that deliver routes to sustainable recovery;

  • Our aims are to help you and your organisation / locality create a climate that influences a cultural shift for all those who are involved in the field of substance/alcohol misuse.
  • Our ethos is to share our experience and pass the message that recovery is possible.
  • We endorse the principle of recovery as a contagion and we have found through our experience that those who are looking for recovery are primarily motivated by meeting others who are already on the journey.

All our trainers, consultants and representatives are either in recovery themselves, or have experience as carers or loved ones of someone who has been affected by addiction. This approach, which leads from a ’grass roots’ perspective, has proved to be effective in engagement at all levels, and provides a valuable insight into recovery from a person-centred approach.

If you have a vision and are not quite sure how to get there our partner network can help. Give us a call to discuss your requirements further. If we can’t help for whatever reason, we are sure to know someone who can.

This page provides an overview of some of the current needs we are addressing and how we can help you to become part of the recovery revolution (you can download the content in a PDF at the bottom of the page).

The Recovery Programme

The Basement Project Recovery Programme is the foundation of our recovery services and our success. Without an understanding of why an addict does what he/she does, how can we expect them to stop – and stay stopped? We find many of our clients have tried before, either on their own or through medical detox or rehabilitation services, only to relapse back into a life of using.

Academics talk about “Recovery Contagion”. The Programme is a prime example of how this works. It provides each individual with a common ‘language’ and understanding of addiction and recovery, and it’s best demonstrated when hearing it being passed on from one addict supporting another.

Our programme completely smashes all the reasons and excuses an individual has for using. It is their start, and their foundation for a successful recovery journey.

Written, produced and delivered by addicts in recovery (with years of using and recovery time behind them), our programme has success rates of more than double the national average. Consisting of over 340 pages of tutor notes and 45 client handouts, the programme is delivered over 32 sessions and split into two phases. It is a comprehensive guide to delivering successful recovery outcomes and it provides practitioners with a resource to deliver unrivalled psychosocial interventions.

But our success is only the measure of the individual’s success. The programme provides the tools to help them develop their recovery capital; their personal, social and wider community resources they need to support continued recovery.

Pre-Recovery phase

During this phase clients are supported to reduce their alcohol and/or drug use and to help them prepare for medical detoxification if this is necessary. Eight group sessions cover; an introduction to the nature of addiction, why we do what we do and why we can’t seem to stop, dealing with the triggers and cravings that keep us on that downward spiral and an understanding of how we arrived here, along with people just like them.

We look at the meaning of ’detox’ and it’s function, not as a magic wand to ’treat’ addiction, but as the first step to Recovery. We then start planning for life immediately after detox – the Recovery Phase.

Recovery phase (abstinence)

A twenty four session rolling programme which clients enter following the Pre-Recovery / detoxification phase. Now that the physical dependency of addiction has been addressed we take an in-depth look at the mental and emotional aspects.

During the sessions we explore the concepts of Recovery in detail. Clients will be shown how to develop their own Recovery ‘tool box’ of strategies to prevent ‘relapse’ and a supporting network of other people in Recovery. It will be reinforced that this is a ‘we’ process – “only you can do it, but you can’t do it alone”.

Clients learn to be more aware and accepting of their feelings and emotions, and to act on them in more constructive ways. We practice this in the Here and Now groups.

For more information, please visit the programme page where you can also download a PDF leaflet.

Mutual Aid Training

Social relationships and connectedness have huge impacts on health and well-being. Our environment and the social relationships we form in a way inoculate us against and repel threats to our health. It is now recognised that a new approach is needed to address the needs of people affected by alcohol and drug problems which would do more than simply offer a stabilising influence and reduce alcohol and drug-related harms but would actually enable individuals to recover from their addiction, rebuild their lives and play an active role within their family, local community and wider society.

According to NICE there is good evidence that mutual aid (12-step & SMART) attendance mediates better substance misuse outcomes, so treatment staff should routinely provide people with information about mutual aid groups and facilitate access for those who are interested in attending (NICE, 2007 & NICE, 2011). However, for people to benefit they need to do more than just show up. A study by Weiss et al (2005) found that simple attendance did not predict outcomes but that ‘active participation’ did, with increasing levels of participation producing a significant incremental benefit. A simple referral into mutual aid is often ineffective as some people either do not attend or drop out quickly (Humphreys, 1999) partly due to lack of understanding. A more effective approach involves services promoting and sometimes hosting local meetings, along with structured conversations with service users, and setting care-planned goals around attending and engaging (Timko et al., 2006), however, this is difficult to achieve without firstly educating stakeholders about the concepts and benefits of Mutual Aid.

Mutual aid facilitation provides an immense opportunity to offer the kind of supportive environment needed to help individuals recover and to support them in the long term – as well as giving them the opportunity to support others. We at TBRP have extensive knowledge of developing a variety of models of mutual aid as well as developing positive relationships with various mutual aid groups, and our centres are living models of the growth of mutual aid in our localities.

Our training has been developed to offer frontline practitioners, managers, commissioners and service users an introduction to a range of mutual aid services and to provide tools for engaging both clients and their treatment services with mutual aid services. Moreover, TBRP are at the forefront of providing models of mutual aid facilitation that can be replicated and delivered nationally. TBRP recognise that this training will become the bedrock within the skills-set in the future landscape of effective recovery systems.

Taking the temperature out of recovery: An Assets review

TBRP in conjunction with Baseline Research have been at the forefront of the growing body of research into recovery and most recently played key roles in two pioneering studies in the UK that looked at the most appropriate pathways to support recovery journeys. Working alongside Dr David Best, we led the fieldwork for the NTA’s Recovery-Oriented Systems study and supported the RSA in their Whole Person Recovery programme. Our most recent work completed in various areas of the UK explores the resources or ‘assets’ that provide support to problematic drug and alcohol users. We have a significant wealth of experience in the field having conducted interviews with over 7,000 individuals in over 40 areas. Other collaborations include studies with the Health protection Agency, UK Home Office, the Welsh Assembly and a number of academic institutions.


To date the dominant model for health and social care has taken the identified needs of the individual or community which emerge from an assessment (e.g. the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment), as a basis for commissioning and delivery of services. However, a growing evidence base suggests that it is the resources (or assets), that people might draw on that is a better predictor of long-term recovery than pathology levels (White and Cloud, 2008).

These assets give insight into what is already working and accentuate positive ability and capacity to activate solutions. This promotes the self-esteem of people and their communities and reduces the reliance on professional services. This in turn helps to build the necessary assets and empower locally driven community solutions, thus building solutions that are co-produced and thereby more sustainable. In response to these changes, we have developed an approach that will enable the stakeholders within the drug and alcohol partnership to meet the challenges positively, drawing on the locality community assets. This will help support the development of a localised Recovery Oriented Integrated System (ROIS).


The aim of this work is to examine more closely how recovery works at a locality level and identify opportunities for co-production of services. This is achieved by firstly mapping groups and structures that enable recovery to take place in communities and understanding how they are produced and delivered and secondly by charting the experiences of individuals in those communities who are undertaking a recovery journey, those engaged in treatment, those out of treatment, stakeholders and family members. The extent to which an area is progressing towards a ROIS will be reflected in individuals’ recovery capital, the visibility of recovery champions, the extent to which services are co-produced and the experiences of individuals in their community. The resultant picture of community assets can then provide recommendations for future development. This provides a blueprint for an area to build its recovery assets within the community and identify opportunities to harness those assets through co-production. Most importantly, the approach creates a tool that localities can use ongoing to keep taking the temperature of how far the system is recovery oriented.

Marketing & Virtual Recovery Communities

TBRP’s marketing partner offers a comprehensive marketing mix to help you promote your recovery services throughout the local community and beyond – putting you on a level playing field with some of the larger, more corporate organisations.


From a simple one or two page static website to an all-encompassing county wide communication channel we can create and manage a site to meet your needs (and the needs of your community). We can advise you on how best to engage with your community, showing you what to include and equally importantly, what to exclude. We will proof read, tweak or even write the content for you as we have an in-depth knowledge of the drug and alcohol sector, and recovery.

Search Engine Optimisation

There is little point spending valuable time and money creating the best designed website unless people can find it. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is exactly what it sounds like, it is optimising your website content so it appears higher in search results than that of other organisations,

We understand what the common search engines do. Basically, we think like they think. We know what they are looking for from a good website and why they would position it higher than others, and it’s not just because they look pretty.

When creating web based content we write or edit it to maximise its potential to be included in search results.

Social Media

Getting connected, communicating and engaging with your local community can be achieved with a mix of social media, backed by an informative and easy to use website. Our marketing team can setup branded Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media accounts and we can help you manage and moderate them.

Facebook Pages

By far the most popular social network with over 1 billion active monthly users, like it or not, Facebook is a ‘must have’ in your social media marketing strategy. We can help you create an attractive Facebook page and show you how to encourage people to ‘LIKE’ it (subscribe) so you can keep them informed of news and activities from your organisation / locality.

Facebook Groups

We can help you create mini Facebook Groups specifically targeted at the recovery community – one addict helping another.

General Marketing

From strategic marketing consultancy to brand development, advertising and media planning through to brochure design and print, display banners, PowerPoint templates and newsletters our partners can help bring consistency to marketing your organisation.

“The community is the soil in which such problems grow or fail to grow and in which the resolutions to such problems thrive or fail to thrive over time”.

(White 2009)

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”