to cope with a very complex and challenging society .’
Ray Jenkins called for a holistic approach – not just dealing with the problem of addiction but about the rest of you , your family , where you ’ re living . He saw these elements in the Dame Carol Black report , ‘ because she put those pieces around the individual . Substance misuse and the treatment of it was only one part .’
‘ The future has to be a “ we ” project and not a “ me ” project ,’ said Clare Kennedy . We needed to be asking ‘ how can we help you flourish ?’ and introducing people to treatment systems that worked for them .
Many solutions already lay within the community , said Glyn Butcher . ‘ When services close at 5pm it ’ s the communities that are picking people up . People come with drug and alcohol problems but it ’ s trauma , it ’ s poverty .’ We needed to ‘ invert the pyramid ’ and invest in communities . ‘ It ’ s about shifting some of the resources to people who are miracle workers ,’ he said . ‘ Take positive risks with people in your communities and allow them a chance .’
‘ It ’ s great to be with so many passionate people , but I ’ ve realised
' We would like to see addiction reframed as part of the human condition ... Everybody is on a spectrum of addiction , everybody is using something to make themselves feel better .'
over time that passion is not enough ,’ added Ray . ‘ You need confidence , and it ’ s about allowing those community-led , passionate organisations to be supported to gain that confidence so they can stand on their own feet .’
For providers , one of the challenges was to ‘ hear the unheard voice ’, said Andrew Carr ,
meaning ‘ those people who appear to be functioning but who may well not be ’. What could we do to help people to engage more effectively in services ? We needed to be genuine about inviting criticism and open to people saying that a service is not functioning as well as it could , he said .
STORIES NOT NUMBERS These conversations had been going on for ten years – ' so what additional courage needs to be found to step into that preferred future ?’ asked Cormac .
It was about being ‘ vulnerable in sharing ’, suggested Graham Clucas , and looking at how we could empower people to take what they need . Furthermore , the vision of what a service should look like needed to come from the community itself , said Mike Hardy , whose commissioning role was informed by his own lived experience . He was dismissive of KPIs , focusing instead on budgets spent where they needed to be and results shown in the difference made to the individual , their friends , family and community . ‘ I don ’ t want numbers , I want stories – and that ’ s how we do the monitoring ,’ he said .
MOVING FORWARD ‘ You ’ re facing an organising challenge ,’ Cormac told participants . What was everyone prepared to put on the table to move forward ?
‘ We are the experts in getting our communities better ,’ said Becky , representing her recovery community . ‘ We need to be respectful but firm about that , and lead our leaders . If things aren ’ t working , we are the people who know what to do about it .’
For Dot Smith of Recovery Connections it was about creating ‘ a culture that allows us to be kind and compassionate , to create that space where everybody ’ s welcome , and we use language like people , person and citizen , and not service user and client .’ And a big part of this culture was to ‘ get honest when we don ’ t get things right , to meet people where they ’ re at and to try to the best of our ability to coproduce everything we do .’
‘ These values were why we got into the field in the first place , because we have a passion , enabling people to change their lives ,’ said Dave Higham of The Well Communities . ‘ We need to go back to that . It ’ s about unity and togetherness and everyone having an equal voice as stakeholders .’ DDN
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OCTOBER 2021 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 13