April 2021 was a huge month for the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations ( CLERO ). After more than a year of building relationships , trust and a sense of shared purpose in the group of 12 members , we have finally reached a position where we have invited both LEROs and other interested parties to join us .
We now have more than 50 members and we are continuing to grow and expand , in spite of our cautious approach . This culminated in a Recovery College event on 23 April , where we were delighted to welcome Dame Carol Black to address more than 100 delegates . She spoke of the central role that she sees lived experience playing in the treatment and recovery system
The College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations ( CLERO ) is going from strength to strength , say David Best and Dave Higham
of the future , and her optimism of achieving genuine and meaningful change .
We also used the event to start consultation and LERO engagement in our work to develop quality standards for lived experience recovery organisations . Our framework for this is inclusive and strengths-based and so our initial plan is to have standards – two for each of the letters in the acronym CHIME :
– Connectedness – Hope – Identity – Meaning – Empowerment
Participants at the Recovery College were asked to provide examples and principles from their own lives and work to inform the initial iteration of the standards , and we will continue to engage with those who volunteered to be part of our working groups as we develop and test these models . This way of working allows us to have a bottom-up approach that means everything we do is informed and developed by the people we serve .
This links to our second key work theme for which we are delighted to have received funding support from the Big Lottery . This project has four aims for the CLERO :
1 . TO RECRUIT AND TRAIN people of lived experience across the UK to be the first cohort of peer researchers
Kazim Khan , 1936-2021
Last month saw the peaceful passing at age 85 of Muhammad Amir Kazim Khan , or ‘ Kaz ’ as he was affectionately known , a gentle giant of aristocratic Indian Raj origins . Kazim was not just active in the race and drugs sector in Britain , but largely created it during his work at the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse in the 1980s and ’ 90s and then in the EU-funded and UK versions of T3E (‘ Toxicomanie Europe Échanges Études ’) and the Race and Drugs Project .
His scholarly but also activist and very practical brand of anti-racism realised that accusations of overt racism were rarely justified or the way forward in the substance misuse treatment sector , where people often chose to sacrifice what could have been more lucrative or status-enhancing careers to work with and champion the most stigmatised , unconventional and despised in our society .
Instead , not-so-benign neglect leading to effectively discriminatory practices characterised a sector which saw itself as already facing up to the stigma and discrimination inherent in the position of illegal drugs and their users in society – at an organisational level , racism is not a unitary thing or an intention , but an outcome of practices such as an agency ’ s human resources policy , its service development programme , or its communications strategy , which combine to adversely ‘ impact on a
‘ Kazim was not just active in the race and drugs sector in Britain , but largely created it ...’
category of the population that has already been classified in a racialist manner ’ ( Drugs : Policy and Politics , https :// www . amazon . co . uk / Drugs-Policy-Politics-Introducing-Paperback / dp / 0335216161 ). The way forward was to bring these practices to light through a guided and forensic examination of the organisation ’ s procedures and priorities ( operationalised in Action Points for Change , https :// findings . org . uk / docs / Action _ Points _ 1 . pdf ) underpinned by an awareness of how systemic racism arises , and then to challenge and change them .
Driven by personal experience , compassion and a sense of justice , it is hard to believe that those who worked in the sector during Kazim ’ s time ( and in some cases still do ) will ever be matched , but that may be to misread the genesis of this remarkable generation . No matter how conventional the entry route , open minds will be affected by encounters with the built-in unconventionality and survivor capabilities of committed users of stigmatised and banned
20 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • JUNE 2021 WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM