DDN October2021 October 2021 | Page 19

PARLIAMENTARY GROUP example of how the approach is embedded into Humankind ’ s everyday work is The Greens , a housing and recovery service in Sheffield . Residents , staff and volunteers at the programme have a regular Working together meeting in our living room , where we make decisions collectively . This might mean voting on things like our plans for Recovery Month , community partnership opportunities , designs for logos and publicity or what people ’ s roles are in making activities happen . But the real magic happens in the doing .
Last year , we built a breakfast bar and used some money from Humankind ’ s service user fund to re-cover the pool table . More and more people started getting involved , including people who thought they didn ’ t have the skills needed . We painted the lounge and made a new coffee table that everybody who now comes to visit wants to buy ! Projects such as that , or working in the garden , also give us the chance to share recovery tips and build a sense of community . There ’ s always somebody willing to lend a hand or a pair of ears to listen or offer a bit of wisdom , and listening to somebody else ’ s problems can also be a positive distraction from your own . Working together is not just about consulting on what staff will do for people , but also what we can do for each other .
As a result of this , people have the opportunity to build connections and learn to support each other . We still have people who have left keep in touch and ask about the fish pond that we ’ ve created or come back and see how the garden is doing . Having the opportunity to stay part of the community means the road doesn ’ t have to end for someone when they leave The Greens . These connections show that Working together can have a longer lasting impact . Partnering with people with lived experience in this way can nurture closer communities , create experiences that people can build on in their careers , and lead to pathways into employment or volunteering .
As a social inclusion charity that has almost tripled in size in the last decade , people are becoming interested in what Humankind stands for and aspires to be . We want Humankind ’ s mission to be guided by lived experience and to create fair chances for everybody to take part regularly . We like to tell people that Humankind is part of our local communities , where everybody ’ s strengths and experiences are valued . Our strategy includes some bold ambitions for our governance and leadership , which are woven into the activities that everybody values so that we can shift conversations out of clinics and into community spaces . We think that the key is collaborating on the things that matter to people , and we ’ re looking forward to seeing the impact that the strategy has .
Chris Lee and Lee Darling are residents at The Greens recovery community in Sheffield . Joe Alderdice is Humankind ’ s co-production lead


DDN reports from the latest DAJ parliamentary group
THE LATEST FIGURES on drug-related deaths showed a level of 79.5 deaths per million , the highest figure on record , and represented a rise of 61 per cent over the last decade , Beth Manders , senior social researcher at the Office for National Statistics ( ONS ) told the Drugs , Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group .
Among the trends she highlighted that the highest rate of drug death was among middleaged male drug users living in deprived areas , with Blackpool and other seaside towns near the top of the tables .
The ONS figures did not include alcoholrelated deaths but Clive Henn , senior alcohol advisor at Public Health England ( PHE ) was able to report on the harmful impact of alcohol consumption during COVID-19 . Levels of consumption were monitored using three different metrics – tax receipts , analysis of purchasing habits and user surveys , all of which showed an increase in off-trade sales and reflected the long period of pub closures . The off-licence sales also indicated an increase in consumption of wine and spirits , with beer and cider sales falling slightly .
During the pandemic there was a 20 per cent increase in alcohol-related deaths , relating mainly to liver disease . The pandemic had accelerated pre-existing trends , with the heaviest drinkers increasing their consumption . Peter Burkinshaw , PHE ’ s alcohol and drug treatment and recovery lead , explained that his organisation would be performing a ‘ deep dive ’ into the data to inform the next drug strategy . They were also studying the effects of lockdown on drug use and the resulting impact on mental health . The mortality statistics were not yet available for that period , but he regretfully expected an increase .
PHE had been encouraged by political
engagement in the Carol Black report . The focus was now on the upcoming spending review and stressing that a meaningful strategy had to come with a price tag . Burkinshaw expected the spending review to be tight given the competing priorities , but PHE were doing everything they could to get a good settlement . There had already been encouraging increases in funding for the sector and signs were better than could have been anticipated 18 months ago , he said . PHE would soon transition to its new home within the healthcare system , with a clear remit to tackle health improvement and disparities . Andrew Horne , executive director for Scotland at With You , gave a presentation on drug and alcohol-related deaths in Scotland . Of two areas suffering significant deprivation , ‘ you are three times more likely to die in Dundee than Blackpool ,’ he said . More than half of the deaths showed benzos and methadone as being present , indicating that these people were likely to be in treatment . The Scottish government had responded by pledging to spend £ 50m a year on treatment over the next five years and appointing a dedicated drugs minister , Angela Constance .
The immediate focus would be on improving access to residential treatment , introducing medicated treatment standards and substantially increasing naloxone provision , accompanied by a media advertising campaign . There needed to be increased prescribing of buprenorphine as well as methadone , he explained , and services should return to more face-to-face interactions with clients . While there had been initial good take-up of online meetings , this had tailed off . ‘ I don ’ t suppose you would have much enthusiasm if someone suggested a family Zoom quiz now ,’ he said . DDN