July/August 2020 - Page 16

SERVICES AIMING HIGH We are a local charity supporting those struggling with addiction across Essex and Kent. Together with our main substance misuse provisions, some of the other projects we also deliver to support vulnerable populations include our work within a specialised women’s refuge, the Essex Appropriate Adult service, our targeted housing support service and our ‘SOS Bus’ services. Mirroring previous articles on the ‘new normal’ of delivering substance misuse provision at this time, the pandemic and its restrictions have had an unprecedented impact on all our services and how we have been able to evolve to continue supporting those most vulnerable. While it’s hard not to, rather than detail all the amazing work our teams, wider Even in the most difficult circumstances recovery is always possible, says Jody Leach treatment system partners and the local community have undertaken to help continue supporting our service users, I feel it’s important to share the voice of some of those service users and examples of positive recovery at this uncertain time. COPING WITH CHANGE For the majority of those we support, change is not popular and can be anxiety provoking at the best of times. We have worked tirelessly to help manage the imposed uncertainty that the pandemic has created, by continuing to offer the structure and support that is normally provided as standard. We have been impressed with how our service users have accepted and adapted to the required changes – not only have they worked with us to support our teams, many have told us that elements of our new ways of working are actually preferred to practices we had been doing for some time. COVID- 19’s impact is tragic, but we are indebted to our service users for their investment in what we do to share these valuable insights. The following examples highlight how the measures we have taken over the last three months have been experienced positively by those using our services. In response to many refuges excluding those with substance misuse needs, we deliver a specialist service within a refuge to ensure these vulnerable women are supported into potential recovery. One of our service users told us that while being addicted at any time in life was difficult, ‘adding COVID-19 to the situation poses a whole new dimension to overcome. Having resided at a women’s refuge since January, I have had first-hand knowledge of the detrimental effect COVID-19 has had on others. Lockdown has taught me that I can be patient and content with my own company and it has pushed me to try and learn new things. ‘I am very lucky to be working with Open Road and my worker has been nothing short of brilliant,’ she continued. ‘She has thought of me at every turn and introduced me to meetings all over the county, including many new opportunities. She is fully aware I am not a huge fan of attending meetings, so having Zoom meetings has actually aided my recovery journey and allowed me to meet others all over the county in similar situations as myself. The amount of pressure Open Road have endured in the current pandemic must have been monumental, and without any previous experience to draw on, they have been fantastic.’ APPROPRIATE SERVICES Our Appropriate Adult (AA) service supports many held in custody with additional substance misuse needs. We are proud to have continued delivering this crucial support throughout the lockdown – despite its challenges – thanks to the passion and commitment of our teams. Essex Police’s custody commander said of the service, ‘Of a special note is the fact that Open Road have continued to provide support to detainees – something that is almost unique in my experience in the AA world at this present time.’ Given the impact of the lockdown on the night-time economy, our usual SOS Bus services have not been needed. Instead, in collaboration with the 16 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • JULY/AUGUST 2020 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM