After running for 25 years in Glasgow, Phoenix Futures’ Scottish
residential service has moved to a new home within the city
Opening new dOOrs
‘Our Scottish residential service holds a very dear place in our
hearts’, says Phoenix Futures’ chief executive Karen Biggs. ‘For
thousands of people it’s where their recovery began.’ But the
changing needs of service users and a desire to create a fully
accessible building meant it was time to move to new premises.
The service houses one of the only therapeutic communities
in Scotland. It operates on a peer-led model, with members
taking ownership of the whole community’s recovery plans.
The staff at the house try not to interfere, but have a structure
in place that works well to ensure a harmonious environment.
The community’s inclusive model runs right through all
aspects of day-to-day life, with members taking charge of
cooking, cleaning, and tending the garden. Residents have also
been involved in designing the house, right down to choosing
the wallpaper and colour schemes – ‘which has made sure the
service has a personality that reflects the people who will use
it,’ says Biggs.
Offering both three- and six-month programmes, the service
works with community members through three distinct stages.
The first stage in the welcome house is about establishing a
commitment to the programme and a desire for long-term
recovery. After this, residents move to the main house for the
primary stage, which involves members telling their stories.
‘This is a big part of the programme,’ says head of house,
David Brockett. People are more often than not revealing
traumatic experiences that have had a direct impact on their
lives and their using. This process is a chance for people to
begin to develop self-acceptance and, through peer-support,
‘start to feel a bit of love’, he says.
When they are ready, residents move on to a senior stage
that gradually reintroduces them to life in the wider
community. They take part in in-house courses, while also being
expected to commit to at least 16 hours a week attending
college or volunteering projects outside of the house. It’s a very
gradual process, with the emphasis on staying safe and moving
towards employment and independent living, at the right pace
Once residents have completed the programme they can
either return home – or as many of the members are from
Glasgow, they go on to rebuild their lives within the city. The
service works closely with local housing associations, some of
whom have property in areas needing regeneration.
Many of these see graduates of the service as very desirable
tenants. ‘They like abstinent guys who want to be involved in
the community, and get involved in local volunteering projects
and groups,’ says Brockett. Around the city, mini Phoenix
projects are sprouting up where former residents are able to
make positive changes in the wider community.
Having the new premises has meant the service has been
able to help even more people and since it opened in the spring,
referrals have increased. ‘It’s a funny feeling, but sometimes I
would be angry that the old building was holding us back,’ says
Brockett. ‘This new building allows us to offer services to people
we couldn’t reach before.’
all aspects of
October 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 9