Drink and Drugs News DDN July 2018 - Page 6

As competition for funding heats up it ’ s time for charities to form meaningful and creative partnerships with the private sector , says Eleanor Youdell

Cover story

Perfect partners

As competition for funding heats up it ’ s time for charities to form meaningful and creative partnerships with the private sector , says Eleanor Youdell

In May this year East Midlands-based drug and alcohol recovery charity Double Impact marked its 20th birthday with our Spirit of Recovery Awards – an awards ceremony that celebrates the transformative power of recovery and recognises service users , staff , volunteers , and partner organisations for their various achievements and support over the past 12 months .

The event received support and sponsorship from a wide range of private sector companies , including Nottingham ’ s Park Plaza hotel , which hosted and catered the 150-person event at no cost .
One of Double Impact ’ s wider goals as a charity – beyond the direct support it provides to those in recovery – is to help break down the societal stigma of addiction . Reaching out and making connections to businesses and employers is an important way of achieving this , as well as raising awareness outside of the third sector .
With public sector funding shrinking and competition for grants increasing , charities are being forced to focus on a wider range of potential funding sources , and we are no exception . Support from the private sector is more important than ever , but how do smaller organisations compete against the plethora of local and national charities with more popular and media-friendly causes than addiction – something that can still be perceived by many to be a lifestyle choice rather than a health issue . Double Impact has responded to this challenge in a number of ways . Firstly we have embedded employer engagement into a number of our grant-funded projects , such as Recovery Recruitment , a Big Lottery funded initiative that has operated in Nottinghamshire for a number of years . The primary vehicle for this is free drug and alcohol awareness training for local employers , angled towards meeting their needs and addressing issues within their own workforce , and building in participation from volunteers in recovery . The volunteers are able to directly challenge preconceived ideas about ‘ addicts ’ or ‘ alcoholics ’ and deliver a powerful message that people in recovery can make as good – if not better – employees as anyone else .
Fruitful relationships have developed with Primark , HMRC , Cineworld , Games Workshop and most recently local confectioners The Treat Kitchen , and several employers have given their support through hosting mock interview sessions that help to prepare people in recovery to re-enter the workplace .
The charity has also raised its profile through our Café Sobar social enterprise , a high street café and alcohol-free venue that is always bustling with city centre shoppers and workers . Set up in 2014 , again with the support of a Big Lottery Fund grant , this provides a safe social venue and space for business meetings , community and recovery-focused groups , as well as volunteering opportunities for people in recovery . While the challenge of creating and sustaining a successful business is not to be underestimated – especially for a smaller charity such as Double Impact – we believe it has reaped many benefits in terms of the charity ’ s ability to engage with the private sector .
Café Sobar literally acts as a shop window for the work of the charity . There is always a mix of people in the café and it ’ s never obvious who is in recovery and who isn ’ t , which in itself

‘ How do smaller organisations compete against the plethora of local and national charities with more popular and mediafriendly causes than addiction ?’

helps to challenge stereotypical ideas of what addiction looks like . The café provides a way for us to attract business people in a very low-key way , for example through hosting business breakfasts , offering affordable meeting room space or just providing a pleasant place for people to come to have a meeting over coffee or do some work . This means business people are exposed to our cause in a nonthreatening and positive way , and can feel good about supporting us through the cost of their usual cup of coffee . Often this then leads on to us being offered other kinds of support .
There are several good examples of this – contact with The Treat Kitchen was initially made through the café , with both businesses planning and participating in a Halloween event together . After becoming aware of the positive impact we were
6 | drinkanddrugsnews | July / August 2018 www . drinkanddrugsnews . com
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