DDN September 2023 DDN September_2023_v2 | Page 22

We created a “ buddy system ” to support NHS addiction and mental health staff better engage with veterans in crisis . Many beneficiaries are now in recovery as a result of this initiative .’
‘ Make it safe for staff , volunteers and peer support workers to have open conversations about substance use . Make a better space for living experience rather than waiting for lived experience .’
people . ‘ There ’ s this attitude of “ you can ’ t trust people ”. People who just want to do their jobs are being prevented from doing it – attitudes haven ’ t changed ’.
‘ Train social services and Jobcentre staff … let them hear real stories of hope from those in recovery .’
‘ Every time someone writes some bullshit about us , get on social media and respond to it . We need positive depictions of people who use drugs .’
‘ People ’ s personal stories are what changes people ’ s minds .’
‘ McDonald ’ s won ’ t employ people with criminal records – what chance do people have if they can ’ t even get a job serving burgers ? A criminal record held me back for years – I put my faith in God . Give people chances ; reach out to all communities . Educate services that people can and do change .’
‘ Move society away from seeing
drug use as a moral failing . Substance use is part of normal human behaviour !’
‘ I experienced stigma when I was accessing treatment . I was in and out of hospital , and constantly judged by medical staff . When I got sober I was asked to help educate doctors and nurses about how it made me feel – we need to do more of this , and challenge people on their language and beliefs .’
‘ Medical staff and police need more training . There ’ s a need for compassion , fairness and to treat everyone as a human being . Be kind .’
‘ I ’ m still facing stigma around my gambling past . The opposite to stigma is not “ no stigma ”, but openness , inquisitiveness and compassion . We need to challenge stigma with openness and gentle directness . Language matters . We realise we are change makers and compassion is contagious .’
‘ The stigma of being a mum in recovery – we think we can ’ t
parent . Getting help is scary . We don ’ t want to lose our children so we don ’ t access services .’
Drug treatment hadn ’ t been a political priority for a long time , but services still needed to interact with politicians , one delegate stressed . ‘ Get the MPs and local councillors out to talk to service users .’ Human stories were powerful , as had been seen with medicinal cannabis and the Anyone ’ s Child campaign . ‘ It all comes down to the way things are framed , and in the grand scheme of things it ’ s pennies so it ’ s worth getting it in front of them . There ’ s an election coming up , so they want to be everyone ’ s friend – it ’ s worth a try .’
‘ We need to be radical and transformative in who we network with , whether that ’ s on social media or in person .’
‘ Ex-forces veterans in recovery are helping veterans still struggling with their addictions .
‘ Politicians like a good anecdote – get your MP or councillor to meet local migrants who use drugs . They live in another world , but do love to come and meet and hear stories – and will use the stories . Now is the time to meet them for influence before the election .’
‘ We need to campaign for change , advocate for women , and never give up – harm reduction , safer sex , safer injecting . Stay in touch and connected , and offer support in other services .’
‘ We need to work together . Be consistent , disciplined , and clear in communicating what we ’ re trying to achieve . Educate , don ’ t berate .’
‘ Employ more people with lived and living experience . How honest can staff be disclosing their own lived and living experience in the workplace ? Stigma has stopped all of us at some point , but perseverance and challenging this has helped .’
‘ Compassionate troublemaking is the way forward . We need to connect with new people as well as checking in with each other , and form local action groups .’