Recovery Plus 76 Feb 2016 Laura loves, Laura loathes... 2015 was a dismal year for recovery. Figures released in 2015 showed a dramatic rise and an unprecedented number of drug-related deaths in Scotland and England for the previous year. Figures released by the Samaritans in 2015 show that, even with a caveat of under-reporting, the suicide rate for men has never been higher. Alongside these tragic loses, some of the most established treatment providers in the UK closed their doors for the final time. This included Bournemouth- based Quinton House in August after 30 years of providing treatment and helping thousands of people to regain their lives after active addiction. Without question, harsh cuts in funding across the field are a major factor. Indeed, the HM Inspectorate of Prisons, in his annual report considered reduced staffing levels (as the result of reduced funding) to have led to increasingly restricted regimes across the prison estate and to have seriously undermined prison safety and any opportunity for a “rehabilitation revolution”. Slashed budgets in areas closely linked to the field, in areas vital to recovery such as affordable housing, the mental health “system”, and access to purposeful activity have impacted greatly on the most vulnerable. As we go into 2016, I fear that we can only expect more funding cuts affecting most deeply the vulnerable people whom our field seeks to serve. As we reflect on last year, there were some glimmers of hope at grassroots level that have thrived despite difficult times. This includes the award winning Blackpool- based Jobs, Friends & Houses which operates as a Community Interest Company, with the mission to “support, empower and employ people” furthest away from the housing and job market including those affected by addiction. Founded by police Sergeant Steve Hodgkins, (currently on secondment from Lancashire Constabulary), Jobs, Friends and Houses works to renovate derelict properties using trades people they have trained in a broad range of construction skills and qualifications. Many of the properties, when renovated, are offered up to the rental market and can provide safe accommodation for people in recovery with access to a supportive network via the organisation. Such a simple idea is delivered superbly by the team involved. 2015 also saw the opening of the Cascade Coffee Shop in Brighton which has quickly established itself as central to the strengthening of a recovery community in the area. It was born from the idea of a small but determined team of local people who together organised a national recovery walk in 2012 – after which they knew there was a need for a meeting place in the area where recovery could be visible and accessible. In February 2015, after a great deal of hard work, founder and manager Pete Davies officially opened the doors of Cascade Coffee Shop. The café offers more than coffee and cake. There’s a space for mutual aid groups, an out of hours safe space, entertainment nights, a choir, theatre groups and all manner of other events to draw the community in and keep them coming back.
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