Drink and Drugs News DDN May 2020 - Page 8

SUPPORT A NEW NORMAL Within days of lockdown being announced, Lancashire’s recovery communities had transformed their way of life on a grand scale, as Chris Lee explains 8 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • MAY 2020 W e are all living with significant changes as a result of the threat posed by COVID-19. For some this is just another factor in busy lives, for others it’s a real threat to a safe and functioning lifestyle. The pressures of isolation, worries about money, housing, food, keeping children occupied and all of us safe will be creating untold pressures and risks for some. The UK recovery movement might have drifted from the popular narrative, however in parts of the country, thriving, diverse recovery communities are adapting to the ‘new normal’. We wanted to highlight how two organisations, Red Rose Recovery/Lancashire User Forum (LUF) and The Well Communities are adapting to support those in recovery and beyond. Lancashire has had a sustainable and thriving recovery scene for well over a decade. This had led to well-developed peer support structures, training, employment, group work, activities, volunteering and more. All of this is delivered very much as an asset-based community development approach – local people with lived experience supporting other local people with lived experience. THE OLD NORMAL In the current circumstances, some ‘normal’ work is still ongoing, albeit under the guidance of physical distancing, use of appropriate protective equipment and essential journeys: In the early days of lockdown donations of food and toiletries from high street retailers were delivered to the elderly, homeless and vulnerable, along with packs from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. Volunteers have been supporting the delivery of more than 600 meals a day to feed individuals who are vulnerable, isolated, quarantined or shielded in local communities; information about digital support is distributed through the food parcels. Local treatment providers have been supported to deliver naloxone and safe storage boxes Support has been given to individuals in recovery housing. • • • • However, with no face-to-face mutual aid running and normal peer support ‘suspended’, a dramatic shift to digital provision has been implemented locally to do all we can to ensure no one is left behind. Both Red Rose Recovery and The Well Communities have rapidly embraced digital tools and shifted support online within days of the UK lockdown coming into force. New partnerships are appearing as a result of the new digital world. This emphasises the flexibility of community organisations and the principle of building delivery around those who use them. This isn’t perfect, but sharing the learning has been key to the success of recovery communities locally. One simple issue has been to try to buy mobile phones and credit for those with no resource and therefore at risk of isolation, or to actively support people to download software and give tutorials to support access. THE NEW NORMAL Employed workers and volunteers in the recovery communities are desperate to help those in need in any way they can. It took a while to get them to recognise the severity of the situation, the risks involved and to adapt to new ways of working. However, now as always, they have proved how they adapt quickly and develop new skills to enable work to continue safely. The ‘new normal’ is being WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM