Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 | Page 19

‘We need a service user voice. We have access to people – but not the infrastructure to get to them. We’re too busy trying to keep people alive.’ Reports, pictures and videos: www.drinkanddrugsnews.com Tim Sampey, BoB ‘The common point today is that service user involvement is absolutely vital. It gives a sense of hope and belonging.’ Jon Roberts, Dear Albert and tobacco at Public Health England, alcohol presentations in drug treatment have reduced by 19 per cent in three years, which is significant when you consider all other drugs have dropped by just 5 per cent. Alongside the tension and frustrations there’s no doubt there was a great deal of passion and commitment at the conference. The afternoon session felt far more personal, with speakers sharing their own stories and experiences of drug use. There is a great amount of positivity around service user involvement, despite the pressures treatment is under and it is inspiring to hear of the hard work which is taking place across the country to support service users in treatment. The voice of service users is more important than ever, and the conference highlighted both the great work and the clear frustrations which exist. On the way back down to London I spent a lot of time reflecting on Tim’s quote, trying to remember all the names and faces of the people I knew who died in nine years whilst working in treatment. Like Tim, I couldn’t remember them all and the process of reflecting was tiring, difficult and draining. Yet it reminded me how important this issue is, and spending a day surrounded by people who, despite the sadness, won’t ever stop championing for service users was, and always is, a privilege. Paul North is director of external affairs at Volteface and tweets at @Paul__North pressure people to stop taking drugs so much, more people would attend for support. On several occasions the question was asked ‘how do we make sure those who don’t access services are represented?’. This is an important question, especially considering most drug-related deaths are among those who are not in treatment services. As pointed out by Rosanna O’Connor, director for alcohol, drugs The ARC (Ayriss Recovery Coventry CIC) attended the DDN conference and found the day really insightful. We met some great people from different organisa - tions, made some new contacts, offered support and received advice, and learnt about new initiatives and products available. As a small organisation that was only formed in October 2018, this is massively vital in making connections with like-minded services. The guest speakers were really passionate and enthusiastic and it was a delight to see people driven by topics like harm reduction. Everyone got a chance to get involved and ask questions and join in. www.drinkanddrugsnews.com It was a really fantastic day and we look forward to coming again next year. Louise, The Arc (Ayriss Recovery Coventry CIC) This was my second DDN conference. I met some thoroughly interesting people, had a fun day, and the programme of speakers was excellent. We heard about the importance of service user involvement and groups, improvements in the distribution of naloxone, new gambling addiction support, experience of making a short film, and much more. The most inspiring was ‘An open heart’ by Jacquie Johnston, who shared her personal story, I felt privileged to hear it. Such a worthwhile get together – thanks DDN. I recommend you experience a DDN conference. Helen Hayden, service manager Harrow and newsletter editor, Build on Belief March 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 19