Drink and Drugs News DDN July 2018 | Page 7

More partnership working at www.drinkanddrugsnews.com having locally, the company expressed an interest in taking on some Recovery Recruitment participants as volunteers, and then took even greater strides in their support by naming Double Impact their charity of the year. ‘With the volume of collaboration we do with Café Sobar it seemed only natural to pick Double Impact as our chosen charity,’ says The Treat Kitchen’s owner Jess Barnett. ‘We admire what they do and would like to support it and the service users as much as we can. Offering placements within different parts of our business is a great way to do this.’ The relationship is now thriving with several volunteers having successfully gained work experience in various parts of their business. The employers also generously ran an open competition to design a Double Impact sweet, and the winning flavour (chilli and chocolate) is soon to hit the shelves, with all profits going back to the charity. Four of their staff are also raising money by running in the Robin Hood half marathon. Similarly, a local business club that held an event in the café then invited our CEO to speak at its Christmas lunch – as well as the cash donations generated as a result, the real opportunity was in being able to reach out to so many business people at once, and so far it has resulted in several people committing to run in the Robin Hood marathon for us and sponsor our Spirit of Recovery Awards. Our current 20th anniversary fundraising appeal has also provided a focal point for businesses to do something for the charity. Over the course of the anniversary year, CEO Graham Miller has been raising funds and awareness through undertaking to run 20 half-marathons in one year. Combining a popular fundraising activity like running wi th a story that has caught the imagination of the local media has enabled us to attract support from many people in the private sector, who may have come into contact through the café or heard Graham speaking at a business lunch event. The appeal has also meant we’ve needed to brush up our social media skills, and having a longer-term appeal ‘The primary vehicle [for us] is free drug and alcohol awareness training for local employers angled towards meeting their needs...’ www.drinkanddrugsnews.com that generates regular news and updates has enabled us to connect into businesses’ social media networks in a meaningful way. ‘All this is common sense stuff really, but it still feels quite new for us, as it’s easy to shy away from this sort of fundraising due to the sense that it’s an “unsexy”’ cause – perhaps being guilty ourselves of succumbing to a kind of stigma,’ says Graham. ‘In fact, what this year has shown us is that there are many supporters out there, including forward thinking individuals within the business sector, who aren’t afraid to do something different and show their support. Often you find out that there is a personal connection to the cause – as we know, conservative estimates say that one in ten people experience addiction and that this in turn directly affects another seven – so there are plenty of people out there who are affected by this.’ H ow does all this reduce stigma? The increased willingness of employers to give people in recovery a chance has a huge impact on the individual, and can help to restore confidence and self-belief. Among those employers, HMRC has played a big part in helping service users to take that big leap into the job market by holding mock interview sessions. ‘My colleagues and I were impressed not only by the fortitude and resilience shown by the interviewees, in the face of what have clearly been very difficult circumstances for them, but also particularly by the enthusiasm and positive attitudes which they all demonstrated during the interviews,’ says Julian Bentley, who was involved in the process. ‘We hope that HMRC have been able to contribute, if only in a small way, to helping the interviewees obtain employment.’ ‘I was fearful about interviews because the atmosphere is uncomfortable and the spotlight is on me,’ says Tom, one of the interviewees, who is now working full time as an administrator. ‘The mock interviews held at Double Impact with staff from HMRC were a great opportunity to practise being in that atmosphere, have a go at answering questions that I don’t usually get asked, and most importantly get feedback on how well I performed. ‘Interviews have been few and far between for me so I gained a lot from the mock interviews, and I felt more confident going into a real interview a few months later. The experience and tools helped me to secure employment earlier this year.’ ‘It’s hard to measure something as intangible as a reduction in stigma, but we believe we’re contributing to a larger movement and the response we’re having locally is very encouraging,’ says Graham. ‘It’s great to have support from businesses that aren’t afraid to lead the way, do something different and make a statement about it – like most things in life, where one goes, another will follow. The willingness of the private sector to demonstrate support for recovery from addiction is worth so much more that any actual financial contribution. ‘It might not be normal yet for a big corporate to choose an addition charity as their charity of the year, but the response I’ve had from the general public and from the private sector to my running tells me that the tide is beginning to turn.’ Eleanor Youdell is business development manager at Double Impact July/August 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 7