July 2020 - Page 22

COMMUNITY Chris Montgomery IN THE ZOOM ROOM Musician Nick Davis is a member of Humankind’s 5 WAYS to Wellbeing: the Recovery Academy in Leeds. Here he tells how Zoom meetings have helped him stay connected I actually feel more supported during the lockdown. I feel I’ve got much closer to a lot of people, even though we’ve not met physically. We’re in touch all the time and we’ve become really good friends – not just people who meet in meetings. You can often go into normal meetings and turn up, check in, say your thing and leave straight afterwards. Not hang about for a coffee, not talk to anybody else. But now people open up more because they are sitting in their own home. You almost feel like you’ve been invited into each other’s homes, and people talk more personally when they’re in that situation. In normal times, some people find it difficult to get to meetings because of transport issues. Some can’t afford the buses, some have anxiety issues getting on buses, some can’t get out of bed. But it’s great that to attend a meeting now, you can roll out of bed, brush your hair, press a button on your computer and be there. I know a lot that find Zoom far, far easier. The thing that we always say in recovery is it’s great to a have a routine. Clearly during lockdown our routines get thrown out of the window, but these Zoom meetings have given everybody a routine and something to look forward to. It became apparent that a lot of people are relying very much on these meetings. We know that in recovery, weekends can be really tough as people find they’re more isolated. It came to a head when a lady who comes in the Zooms regularly was particularly down and depressed one Saturday. She said – and it nearly broke my heart – how she just wanted to go and sit outside 5 WAYS even though it was closed, because she’d feel better and closer to us all. And I thought, there’s no reason why we can’t set up our own Zoom groups among ourselves, because we’ve all got to know each other pretty well. Now, it’s a bit like when you’re in rehab and you’re with the same people all the time and you get to know them inside out. So we set up our own Zoom chats on a weekend, just for a social chat. It’s not endorsed by 5 WAYS or Forward My typical week Monday 2pm – a SMART meeting. Tuesday 11am to 12.30pm – a quiz that two workers host and that’s great fun as well. Tuesday 2pm – another check-in meeting. Wednesday 11am – a music therapy-type session. Two people pick three particular songs that have helped either through lockdown or their recovery or that mean something to them. They talk about those songs, play them on YouTube on the split screen, and then we discuss what they mean. Wednesday 2pm – another check-in meeting. Thursday morning – a recovery workshop, usually two hours. Thursday 2pm – another check-in and chat for a couple of hours. Friday 2pm – with the weekend coming up we do a mindfulness session, just to chill out and get us ready for the weekend. Leeds. It’s not an official thing, but I did speak to our workers about it. I’m not a trained counsellor or anything. I’m just in recovery, like anyone else. We get people together at the weekend, and we talk about all sorts. If people have got particular issues, they can get things off their chest. But we just have a natter as well and it’s just like sitting in a coffee bar or the lounge at 5 WAYS where you talk about all sorts of rubbish. So, yeah, with the Zoom meetings, I feel far more connected and very, very lucky. 5 WAYS to Wellbeing: the Recovery Academy is the centre in Leeds for those now in recovery from an alcohol or drug misuse issue. 22 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • JULY/AUGUST 2020 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM