The legal niceties on the merger between Forward Trust and Action on Addiction were completed on 1 May , on which date over 100 staff became employees of the Forward Trust , and the merged organisation took responsibility for all contracts and delivery for Clouds House , the SHARP day programmes in Essex and Liverpool , the M-PACT Family programme , and the CATS training service .
All mergers cause some disruption , and the legal and HR procedures are complicated , but this has felt like a smooth process – with a clear shared mission and culture between the two organisations , and an excitement around what the future can bring . We aim , as an expanded Forward Trust ( we are also mobilising around £ 6m of new probation contracts at the same time ), to be a strong and consistent voice in the sector – providing high quality services , but also campaigning to raise public and policy understanding of the causes of addiction and social exclusion , to tackle the stigma our clients face , and to improve the design of our responses .
This latest step change in the scale and reach of our services underlines our core mission – learnt through decades of managing recovery programmes for people struggling with drug or alcohol dependence , but now applied to a wider range of client groups and situations ( offenders , homeless , long-term unemployed , those struggling with mental
‘ How can the individual be helped to find their own strength , and the support of those around them , to become more than their past ?’
health problems ). We believe that anyone is capable of making transformational changes to the direction of their lives . With determination and support , our clients can break the cycle of addiction , offending and social marginalisation to build a positive and fulfilling life .
We are clear on the shared beliefs that lie behind this mission :
• That the root causes of most people ’ s slide into addiction or criminal lifestyles are adverse experiences ( neglect , abuse , trauma ) in childhood or adolescence . Most of our clients have been dealt a poor hand in life . They may not always have made the right choices , but they deserve our support to change the script .
• That most people want to change – they don ’ t choose a life of desperation , conflict and marginalisation . But they have lost , or never had in the first place , the tools to get out of the negative
cycles they find themselves in .
• Consequently , instilling belief in our clients that a different path is possible , and that they are capable of following it , is a crucial component of recovery . The visible presence of role models with lived experience is therefore central to our service design .
• Services funded by the taxpayer – as most of ours are – should be designed to maximise , and be measured by , their impact on bringing about these changes .
It is important for organisations in the social care sector to have a clear set of beliefs , shared by everyone involved , that give us clarity on what we come in to work every day to achieve . I am proud that Forward Trust has this ‘ mission drive ’
and I would guess that similar motivations are driving most of the people working in this sector . But I am not sure that commissioners and providers spend enough time on ensuring that services are designed to represent these principles , and that we maximise the opportunities for personal development and recovery that exist in our clients .
Whether people come to us for help with drugs , alcohol or other addictions – or practical help with employment , housing or prison releases – our approach is the same : how can the individual be helped to find their own strength , and the support of those around them , to become more than their past .
Mike Trace is chief executive of the Forward Trust
We structure our services according to four stages
Of course , it ’ s rare for an individual to pass through these stages in
a simple and linear process , but they are useful in giving staff and
clients a framework for the progress we hope our clients can make :
PAUSE – this refers to efforts to help clients rise above the
pressures of often chaotic lives to stay safe , and find some stability
to consider their options .
ENGAGE – where clients are ready , we work hard to build their
motivation to believe in change .
DEVELOP – For those who have committed to turning their lives
around , we offer a range of intensive programmes and pathways
that focus on an individual ’ s personal development .
PROSPER – Where clients take the reward for their hard work , and
pursue their interests with work , family and community – we try to
continue helping them by creating peer-led recovery communities
through our Forward Connect network .
KenDrysdale / iStock
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JUNE 2021 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 19