DDN February 2022 February 2022 | Page 19



The Leeds recovery centre 5 WAYS is back to delivering their Recovery Wrx outreach events in person . Due to coronavirus the sessions had moved onto Zoom but they hit the road once more in January , with an event for mental health nursing students at the University of Leeds .

The centre has been running the sessions for five years for a variety of audiences including those in approved premises , universities , charities and social care services . Through real-life experiences and personal stories , its members highlight that recovery from significant problems with alcohol and / or drugs is possible .
‘ It ’ s about demonstrating visible recovery and challenging some of the prejudices , beliefs and stigma that can go along with problematic alcohol and drug use ,’ said Helen Mason , senior practitioner at 5 WAYS . ‘ They show that people can move forward with their lives , free from addiction , and go on to achieve amazing things .”
The sessions are very tailored to the audience , she explained : ‘ Depending on who we are talking to it could be about inspiring others who are still struggling with issues . If we are speaking to health or social care professionals , we focus on helping them see beyond stereotypes and prejudices .’
5 WAYS members ( L-R ): Shaar Jackson , Michelle Regan and Nick Davis at the University of Leeds
‘ Everybody ’ s route to recovery is unique to them ,’ said 5 WAYS member Michelle Regan , who spoke at the University of Leeds event about her recovery journey . ‘ We are able to impart three very different experiences of addiction . By speaking to students , we are bringing reality , warts and all , to supplement the classroom theory .
In my experience , life certainly isn ’ t textbook ideal . What was great was the students really welcomed us , with a few coming to express gratitude at the end .’
The 5 WAYS team are scheduling a series of face-to-face sessions in West Yorkshire for the rest of the year . For more information email 5ways @ forwardleeds . co . uk

I AM A ...

Steven Baker is an alcohol recovery practitioner at the Essex ARC service

My working week is currently split between home working and being based in our Harlow office . I provide support , advice and information around alcohol use for adults living in Essex – the work is varied and keeps me very busy .

My diary is normally fully booked two to three weeks in advance , with a mixture of client calls , face-to-face appointments , group sessions , child protection meetings and professionals ’ meetings , with the odd home visit thrown in for good measure .
While my role deals with issues that arise as a result of alcohol use , I also end up learning a lot more about my clients and why they drink . I try to provide coping strategies so our clients can begin to address these issues rather than trying to use alcohol to resolve them .
My background is group work and I personally find this the most rewarding . I can plan a session as and when required , but I also
do some of my best work by thinking on my feet and tailoring the session to the client ’ s needs . When they ask me a question , we take time to reflect on what they have just said and what they have told me previously . Often this helps people find the answer to their own questions . I like to keep the group informal and will always try to end on a positive and with them leaving the room ( virtual or physical ) with a smile on their face .
To anyone considering making a career within the alcohol recovery sector , I can honestly say that no day is ever the same . Our clients can experience highs and lows which take us all by surprise . The important thing is to be responsive to their needs and available when they reach out for help . This type of work is a chance to put something
' My background is group work and I personally find this the most rewarding .'
back into the community . For those clients that go on to be volunteers or peer mentors , it is extremely rewarding to see the progress they have made .
I have had the privilege of working for Phoenix Futures and Essex ARC for nearly three years now . I am passionate about the job that I do and have worked with some interesting clients and colleagues , all of whom have helped me to develop as a practitioner and as an individual .
OUR ‘ I AM A …’ CAREERS SERIES aims to share knowledge and experience of different careers in the sector . You can take part through the ‘ get in touch ’ button on our website : www . drinkanddrugsnews . com / i-am-a /