RecoveryBlog

recoveryblog: a blog for recovery advocates!

Our recovery advocacy blog is produced by individuals in recovery!  Here you will find commentary and personal discussions on different aspects of addiction recovery and advocacy.

More Recent Posts

Recovery Advocacy and Personal Philanthropy by William White & Greg Williams

July 14, 2014
I have written a good deal about the harmful effects of money on social movements – particularly about how recovery advocacy movements can be harmed by too much money, too little money, ill-timed money and agenda-tainted money. That said, there are critical periods in the life of successful social movements that require financial resources, with the long-term fate of the movement hinging on the availability and sources of such financial support. Greg Williams and I have given considerable thought to the state of the new recovery advocacy movement in the United States and we belief this movement is at such a critical milestone. By all accounts, the new recovery advocacy movement has come of age. Faces & Voices of Recovery will celebrate its 13th anniversary this fall. There are now more than 95 members of the Association of Recovery Community Organizations. Advocates have championed and witnessed the passage of landmark legislation and regulatory changes that ended key areas of past discrimination against people in recovery. New recovery support institutions – recovery community centers, recovery residences, recovery schools, recovery ministries, recovery cafés – are sprouting in communities across the country. We have more than 125,000 people in recovery and their families and allied participating each year in public recovery celebration events. The film The Anonymous People is filling theatres across the country. Addiction recovery has never been more visible within the American culture. When the new recovery advocacy movement was formally launched at the Recovery Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2001, the question we asked was, “Can individuals and families in recovery be mobilized culturally and politically?” In the intervening years, that question has been affirmatively answered. With such mobilization clearly evident, the question became “Mobilized to do what?” And again, that question was answered as local recovery community organizations developed programs that widened pathways of entry into long-term addiction recovery. Much of this work was initiated and sustained by voluntary efforts of people in recovery and by financial support that came from private foundations, federal or state agencies and the contributions of local businesses. The next stage of the new recovery advocacy movement involves more than putting thousands of faces and voices on addiction recovery. Locally, it involves the much harder work of building sustainable recovery support institutions and building community environments in which recovery can flourish. Nationally, it involves the kind of technical support Faces and Voices has offered to local recovery community organizations and providing the connecting tissue that allows these organizations to speak with one voice on issues affecting all communities. There is a point in all social movements where the true ownership of that movement is tested. The new recovery advocacy movement is at that point. The question is whether people in personal or family recovery will take ownership of the future of this movement by financially supporting the local, state and national organizations that coordinate the day-to-day work of the movement. It is time that we who have harvested the fruits of recovery pay it forward with our time, our talents, and yes, our financial contributions. What can you give today to support Faces & Voices of Recovery or to your local recovery community organization? Click here to make a donation to support the future of this movement. Click here to contribute your time and talents.

Faces & Voices of Recovery to Honor Chris Herren Former NBA Start with National Voice of Recovery Award

June 20, 2014

Over 23 Million Americans Are In Recovery From Addiction — America Honors Recovery Is The Preeminent Awards Ceremony Highlighting The Accomplishments Of The Most Influential Addiction Recovery Advocates

WASHINGTON, D.C.—June 25, 2013— Former NBA basketball sensation and national recovery advocate, Chris Herren, will be given the Voice of Recovery Award at Faces & Voices of Recovery’s annual awards reception, America Honors Recovery. Herren first went public with his recovery story in the memoir Basketball Junkie, and Emmy nominated ESPN Films documentary Unguarded, of which he is the featured subject. He has since traveled the country to speak to over 500,000 young people about his recovery and the dangers of substance use.

Long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a reality for over 23 million Americans, but remains one of our nation’s best-kept secrets. America Honors Recovery recognizes those individuals and organizations who work tirelessly to end the discrimination facing people with addiction.

“We have the exciting opportunity to come together and celebrate the solution to addiction – recovery – and highlight the importance of speaking out on behalf of those who still suffer from our most pressing public health problem,” said Dona Dmitrovic, Faces & Voices of Recovery Board Chair.

The June 25th ceremony will take place at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, D.C. from 6:00-8:00 P.M. William Cope Moyers, best-selling author of Broken and Now What will be on hand as the master of ceremonies.

In addition to Chris Herren, the Northern Ohio Recovery Association will be awarded the Joel Hernandez Award, which honors an organization that works diligently on behalf of the recovery community. The Vernon Johnson Award honors three individuals who have devoted their lives to recovery: Denise Holden, RASE Project; Allen McQuarrie, Bucks County Chapter of PRO-ACT; and Kathleen Gibson, Oxford House World Services will be recognized with this prestigious award in 2014. A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D. will be awarded the Lisa Mojer-Torres Award for his leadership and dedication to improving the quality of care that individuals and families suffering from addiction are able to access.

Each of these extraordinary organizations and individuals’ works tenaciously to promote the reality of recovery from addiction and to make it possible for others to get the help they need. They are leading the charge on a burgeoning movement that embraces recovery as a civil right.

This year Faces & Voices of Recovery is thrilled to announce Natural High, a nationally recognized nonprofit, as our Presenting Partner for this exciting event, whose work for the last 20 years has been dedicated to empowering millions of youth across the country to say yes to a natural high, and no to drugs and alcohol.

“Natural High is excited to join Faces & Voices of Recovery as the Presenting Partner of the America Honors Recovery Awards ceremony,” said Michelle Ahearne, Executive Director of Natural High. “This is truly a unique opportunity to bridge the prevention and recovery communities as we face the challenge of addiction together.”

About “Faces & Voices of Recovery”
Faces & Voices of Recovery is dedicated to organizing and mobilizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, our families, friends and allies into recovery community organizations and networks, to promote the right and resources to recover through advocacy, education and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery. For more information about event please visit: http://www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

About Natural High
Natural High is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization empowering youth to discover, amplify and pursue their natural high, giving them a reason to say no to drugs and alcohol. In collaboration with over 50 influential celebrity ambassadors, Natural High empowers youth in classrooms via their inspirational video series and research based curriculum which is provided free-of-charge to educators across the U.S.; online via Naturalhigh.org, and social media; and in the community via contests & nationwide events like Vans Warped Tour. They currently work with more than 17,000 educators and reach 7 million youth every year. For more information visit http://www.naturalhigh.org.

Congratulations To The First Five Organizations To Receive CAPRSS Accreditation!

February 25, 2014

Five organizations have received full accreditation status for their peer recovery support services programs from the Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services (CAPRSS).

In its first-ever round of awards, CAPRSS accredited the Association of Persons Affected by Addiction (Dallas, TX); McShin Foundation (Richmond, VA); Minnesota Recovery Connection (Minneapolis, MN); PRO-ACT, a program of the Southeast Council of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA); and Stairway to Recovery, a program of Latino Health Institute (Brockton, MA).

We’re proud to have achieved this important milestone in awarding these first-ever accreditations and are thrilled to be at this stage after nearly three years of development work. We are at this point because of the involvement and engagement of recovery community leaders, as well as stakeholders and allies, across the country.

In January 2014, CAPRSS began fulltime operations when Elizabeth Burden was hired as its chief executive officer. CAPRSS will begin accepting applications for its next round of accreditation in early April from any organization or program providing PRSS that support addiction recovery.

CAPRSS is the only accrediting body in the US for recovery community organizations and other organizations offering addiction-related peer recovery support services (PRSS). CAPRSS’s mission is to identify and support excellence in the delivery of peer recovery support services. CAPRSS’ asset-based accreditation™ program helps emerging and established PRSS programs to build capacity and improves PRSS program performance by setting and measuring the achievement of standards.

To find out more about CAPRSS and its accreditation process, please visit the website at CAPRSS.org, where you can sign up to recieve regular updates and get involved in this exciting recovery enterprise.

The New Face of Faces & Voices of Recovery

February 17, 2014

We’re excited to launch this amazing new website where you can learn, connect & take action. I’m proud to serve as Faces & Voices board chair and work with recovery advocates from across the country to advance our recovery agenda. I encourage you to find out more about our board and our regional representatives and share your recovery story, events and trainings with our growing constituency.

As a woman in long term recovery, I know that recovery is working for me and my family. I am one of the 23 million Americans who are standing up, speaking out and giving back so that others can get the help they need to live new lives in recovery. Faces & Voices of Recovery believes that everyone has a right to recover. This chart shows the conditions that will make that possible and that we’re excited to work with you to achieve:

Last year we collaborated with our partners to launch a new campaign, MANYFACES1VOICE.ORG to advance the recovery movement. Faces & Voices 2014 Rally for Recovery! hub event will be in Louisville, KY on September20th in partnership with People Advocating Recovery, Kentucky’s statewide recovery community organization. Stay tuned for much ahead in the coming year.

I want to thank our dedicated board and staff and the tens of thousands of people who have come together in recovery community organizations across the nation and the world. Whether behind the scenes or on the front line, thank you for joining us in making every recovery voice count.

Dona Dmitrovic

Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services LLC Established to Accredit Organizations and Programs Providing Peer Recovery Support Services

June 22, 2013

(Washington, DC, July 22, 2013) – Faces & Voices of Recovery has established the Council on Accreditation of Peer Recovery Support Services (CAPRSS) LLC, the next step in implementing a system to accredit recovery community organizations and programs as health care service providers.

“We are excited about this important step that will build on the successes of the growing network of recovery community organizations across the US,” said Faces & Voices Director of Programs Tom Hill. “Implementation of the Wellstone/Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act, combined with a new focus on recovery and health management, have positioned these organizations and programs to step into new roles in their communities.”

Under CAPRSS, organizations seeking accreditation will be required to meet a set of standards, established criteria, and measured outcomes, organized according to four functional areas and accompanying domains. Applicants will be evaluated on the extent to which they can demonstrate their ability to meet the specific standards on a tiered continuum ranging from full accreditation to provisional and nonaccreditation status. Assistance for applicants will be available to help organizations and programs build capacity and meet accreditation requirements.

“CAPRSS is the first-ever accrediting body that is designed specifically for recovery community organizations and peer programs in allied organizations offering peer services. CAPRSS accreditation status will allow them to take on a level of accountability that can guarantee the highest level of quality in services, wherever they are delivered – in community or off-site service settings, such as criminal justice, clinical treament, or primary care,” said Hill.

A full set of standards and key indicator criteria have been developed Site visits in five
locations are underway, to be completed by the end of October, 2013. The site visits are
planned as pilots to further assess the standards, develop onsite protocols, and test
measurement metrics and final evaluations. After the site visits, the standards and
measures, site visit protocols and peer review manuals will be finalized, along with an
online application and learning platform. The CAPRSS web site (www.caprss.com)
provides additional information and a place to register for updates and requests to
participate in the accreditation process.

Faces & Voices of Recovery has been developing CAPRSS since January 2011. A 25-
member Advisory Council representing public and private sector payers, researchers, and
peer recovery support service providers has guided its effort. Two consultants, Elizabeth
Burden and Thomas Zastowny, PhD., have brought organizational, design, and technical
expertise and Tom Hill, Faces & Voices Director of Programs, has managed the overall
project. CAPRSS development has been supported by the Health Foundation of Greater
Cincinnati, the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA) and Faces & Voices of Recovery members.

About Faces & Voices of Recovery
Faces & Voices of Recovery is a national nonprofit organization working to mobilize,
organize and rally the 23 million Americans in long-term recovery from addiction to
alcohol and other drugs, their families, friends and allies in a campaign to end
discrimination; broaden social understanding; and achieve a just response to addiction as
a public health crisis. For more information, please visit: facesandvoicesofrecovery.org.

FIRST-EVER NATIONWIDE SURVEY DOCUMENTS DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE FOR PEOPLE IN RECOVERY FROM ADDICTION

April 25, 2013

Study highlights the critical need for removal of discriminatory barriers to people with addiction and fighting for recovery – costing nation $343 Billion a year

(Washington, DC, April 25, 2013) – The results from the first nationwide survey of persons in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs released today by Faces & Voices of Recovery documents the heavy costs of addiction to the individual and the nation and for the first time, measures and quantifies the effects of recovery over time. During their active addiction, 50 percent of respondents had been fired or suspended once or more from jobs, 50 percent had been arrested at least once and a third had been incarcerated at least once, contributing to a total societal cost of $343 billion to our nation annually.*

There are over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction in the US. The dramatic improvements associated with recovery affected all areas of life including a ten-fold decrease in involvement with the criminal justice system and use of costly emergency room departments and a 50 percent increase in participation in family activities and in paying taxes compared with their lives in active addiction. Yet, discriminatory practices in housing, employment, health insurance coverage and elsewhere remain tremendous barriers to recovery.

“It’s time to take action to end discrimination facing people in or seeking recovery from addiction. As this survey from Faces & Voices documents, recovery benefits everyone,” said former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

“This survey documents, for the first time ever, that investing in recovery makes sense. When we get the help and support that we need, we are employed, pay bills and taxes, vote, volunteer in our communities and take care of our health and families,” said Faces & Voices board chair Dona Dmitrovic. “We call on states and the Congress to reform drug policy by addressing and removing discriminatory barriers; ensuring access to and financing for a full range of health care and other services to support Americans in initiating and sustaining their recovery, and to invest in research to identify quality and cost-effective recovery-promoting policies and practices.”

While the many costs of active addiction are well documented, very little is known about the changes in key life areas as a function of entering and sustaining recovery, or when they occur. The survey measures and quantifies the recovery experience over time – Less than 3 years; 3 to 10 years; and 10 years and more.

“These research findings are a call to action to policy makers and the public,” said Dmitrovic. “Life keeps getting better as recovery progresses.”

ADDICTION RECOVERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE

Involvement in illegal acts and involvement with the criminal justice system (e.g., arrests, incarceration, DWIs) decreases by about ten-fold
Steady employment in addiction recovery increases by over 50% greater relative to active addiction
Frequent use of costly Emergency Room departments decreases ten-fold
Paying bills on time and paying back personal debt doubles
Planning for the future (e.g., saving for retirement) increases nearly three-fold
Involvement in domestic violence (as victim or perpetrator) decreases dramatically
Participation in family activities increases by 50%
Volunteering in the community increases nearly three-fold compared to in active addiction
Voting increases significantly
Reports of untreated emotional/mental health problems decrease over four-fold
Twice as many participants further their education or training than in active addiction
THE BENEFITS OF ADDICTION RECOVERY OVER TIME

The percentage of people owing back taxes decreases as recovery gets longer while a greater number of people in longer recovery report paying taxes, having good credit, making financial plans for the future and paying back debts.
Civic involvement increases dramatically as recovery progresses in such areas as voting and volunteering in the community
People increasingly engage in healthy behaviors such as taking care of their health, having a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and dental checkups, as recovery progresses
As recovery duration increases, a greater number of people go back to school or get additional job training
Rates of steady employment increase gradually as recovery duration increases
More and more people start their own business as recovery duration increases
Participation in family activities increases from 68% to 95%.
ABOUT THE SURVEY

The online survey was developed, conducted and analyzed in collaboration with Alexandre Laudet, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Study of Addictions and Recovery at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. It was conducted between November 1 and December 31, 2012 and collected information on 3,228 participants’ sociodemographics, physical/mental health, substance use, and recovery history, and 44 items representing experiences and indices of functioning in work, finances, legal, family, social and citizenship domains.

*Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars and Cents: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

ABOUT FACES & VOICES OF RECOVERY
Faces & Voices of Recovery is organizing the over 23 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, their families, friends and allies in a campaign to end discrimination; broaden social understanding; and achieve a just response to addiction as a public health crisis. www.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org

Posts from William White

Program Oversight Tip Sheet

October 1, 2021

Peer recovery support service (PRSS) programs should have an established, formal recovery community advisory council or community board, in addition to a Board of Directors.

Board of Directors Tip Sheet

October 1, 2021

Building a Strong Governing Board

A peer recovery support services (PRSS) program benefits from having a strong board that is dedicated to the mission of the organization, representative of the local recovery community, and effectively prepared for their governing role.

Marty Walsh US Secretary of labor video

September 30, 2021

What Does the Future Hold for the Recovery Community?

September 9, 2021

Featured Panelists: Christina Love, Dharma Mirza, and Meghan Hetfield

 

Christina Love, Advocacy Initiative Specialist, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)

 

 

 

 


Dharma Mirza Equity & Justice Fellow at ARHE & Oregon Measure 110 Oversight & Accountability Council Member

Dharma Mirza (she/her) is an artist, activist, policy advocate, and scholar living in Corvallis, OR. Dharma is a Public Health and Gender Studies student at Oregon State University. Dharma focuses her work and research on harm reduction, sexual health, addiction, public health equity, and the intersections of behavioral health and marginalized health populations. Dharma informs her work through intersectional, feminist, and decolonial frameworks and draws on her own experiences in navigating health/harm reduction services as an HIV-positive, queer, biracial transgender woman, Khwaja Sira (Pakistani Third Gender), and former survival sex worker and IV drug user.


Meghan Hetfield, Certified Addiction Recovery Coach and Certified Recovery Peer Advocate

 

As a Nationally Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist and a NY State Certified Recovery Peer Advocate and Trainer, Meghan has found purpose in supporting people in their individual pathways of health and wellness. She is a dedicated advocate for Harm Reduction and ending the racist War on Drugs. She believes that radical compassion is needed to heal each other and meet our fellow humxns “where they’re at” without shame or judgement. Meghan is currently working from home in New York’s Catskill Mountains for WEconnect Health Management as a PRSS where she enjoys swimming holes, mushroom club hikes and cooking all her plant & fungi foraging finds.


Description: Recovery belongs to us all. Leading up to the second summit in St. Paul, MN this October 3-6, 2021 – 20 years after the original summit – what do we expect of our future? Three vibrant leaders discuss their perspectives and hopes for the next two decades of the Recovery Community. Through this moderated discussion, we will investigate the need to end gatekeeping and welcome everyone to recovery by lowering barriers to recovery support, creating inclusive spaces and programs, and broadening our understanding of what recovery means for people with different experiences. As we grow in empathy and understanding, we save lives by adding protective factors and building resiliency. Ever reminding us that Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.

Moderated by: Keegan Wicks, National Advocacy and Outreach Manager, Faces & Voices of Recovery


This webinar series is sponsored by Alkermes.

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

August 25, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs_FVR

Ethics Tip Sheet

April 6, 2021

Peer recovery support service (PRSS) programs require an ethical framework for service delivery. In most cases, simply “importing” a professional code of ethics is not effective. There is a difference between the professional-client relationship and the relationship of the peer leader and the peer being served that warrants an ethical framework specifically tailored to PRSS.

We Have Been (Addiction Lament & Recovery Celebration)

February 25, 2021

Understanding oneself is incomplete when divorced from the history of one’s people. Those with lived experience of addiction and recovery share such a larger history. Over the course of centuries and across the globe, we have been:

Abandoned  Arrested   Berated   Caned   Castigated   Coerced   Confronted   Condemned   Conned   Defamed  Defrocked   Divorced   Deported   Denied Probation   Denied Pardon   Denied Parenthood   Executed   Electrocuted   Electroshocked   Evicted   Expelled   Exploited   Exiled   Feared   Fired   Forsaken   Hated   Humiliated   Incarcerated   Incapacitated   Kidnapped   Kicked Out   Quarantined   Restrained  Ridiculed   Sedated  Seduced  Shunned   Shamed   Surveilled   Tough Loved   Criticized   Colonized   Commercialized   Criminalized   Delegitimized   Demonized   Depersonalized   Deprioritized   Disenfranchised   Eulogized   Euthanized   Glamorized   Homogenized   Hypnotized   Institutionalized   Lobotomized   Marginalized   Memorialized   Miscategorized   Mischaracterized   Monetized   Mythologized   Objectified  Ostracized   Patronized   Politicized   Proselytized   Publicized   Sensationalized   Stigmatized   Scandalized   Sensualized   Sterilized   Terrorized   Theologized   Traumatized   Tranquilized  Trivialized

More recently, through the efforts of recovery advocates and professional and public allies, we are being:

Applauded   Awakened   Celebrated   Defined   Educated   Elevated   Encouraged   Helped   Healed   Enfranchised   Hired   Informed   Inspired   Motivated  Profiled   Reconstructed   Recruited   Redeemed   Rekindled   Renewed   Restored   Represented   Reunited   Supported   Surveyed   Transformed   Uplifted  Utilized  Valued Vindicated   Actualized   Baptized   Decriminalized   Destigmatized   Diversified   Enfranchised   Hypothesized   Idealized   Legitimized  Medicalized   Mobilized   Organized   Prioritized   Professionalized   Radicalized   Randomized   Recognized   Reconceptualized   Revitalized   Secularized   Sympathized Theorized

Through our shared journeys, recovery is gifting us with:

Accountability   Acceptability   Adaptability   Authenticity   Clarity   Collegiality   Community   Dignity   Employability   Fidelity   Flexibility   Honesty   Humility   Integrity   Longevity   Maturity   Opportunity   Possibility   Predictability   Productivity   Prosperity   Respectability  Responsibility  Sanity   Serenity   Sobriety   Spirituality   Stability  Survivability   Tranquility   Visibility   Wellbriety

Is it any wonder given the complexity of these experiences that we struggle in recovery to answer, “Who am I?” We cannot fully understand the “me story” without the “we story.”  Our personal stories nest within the hands of this larger multigenerational and multinational story. Our present circumstances, our shared needs, our individual aspirations, and our future destinies are inextricably linked to this complex, collective past. We can draw upon that past for resolve and inspiration at the same time we rise above it. Personally and collectively, we have fallen, yet like Lazarus, we rise anew.  Personally and collectively, we are moving from pain to purpose.

 

National Standards of Best Practices for RCOs

February 24, 2021

To ensure fidelity to the recovery community organization model, Faces & Voices of Recovery, RCOs across the nation, and stakeholders have identified the following as national best practices for recovery community organizations.

Recovery Innovations: The Well-Fed Social Supermarket

February 18, 2021

I recently discovered a UK-based project that I found so exciting that I solicited the below blog to share with my readers. To me, the Well-Fed Social Supermarket signals a next stage in the evolution of recovery support services: programs that serve those seeking and in recovery while simultaneously benefiting the larger community. For generations, “service work” in the recovery community has reflected the support we provide each other, our mutual aid organizations, and individuals and families seeking recovery. Perhaps the day has arrived when that service ethic will be extended in new and dramatic ways to larger communities and cultures.

–Bill White

 

Recovery Innovations: The Well-Fed Social Supermarket

Dave Higham, Ged Pickersgill and David Best

Background

Recovery is a process that is characterised through the acronym CHIME – standing for Connectedness (the importance of social engagement); Hope; Identity (the growth of positive personal and social identities); Meaning (engaging in activities that give value to each day) and Empowerment (often experienced as positive self-esteem and self-efficacy).

For recovery community organisations, supporting people to achieve sustainable recovery is often about finding ways to promote CHIME that are personalised to individual aspirations and goals, and the stage of a person’s recovery. This means creating access to positive social and community resources that can nurture recovery capital.

In the UK, there have been a glut of recovery cafes, some of which have succeeded and others failed, but an increasing quest for diverse programmes and social enterprises that can both bolster recovery experiences while also contributing to the growth and wellbeing of the local community. This article provides a brief overview of the Well and then will focus on its innovative contribution to recovery pathways and community wellbeing.

The Well

The Well is a not-for-profit, community interest company (CIC) formed by ex-offender Dave Higham in 2012. Dave left prison for the last time in 2007 having spent over 25 years in addiction and in that time spent more time in prison than he did in the community. Since leaving prison in 2007 he has dedicated his life to supporting others with drug and alcohol addiction through both voluntary and paid employment. Dave set up The Well with his own money and with no blueprint to follow. Instead, he used his experience, vision and determination to create what has now become a leading provider of recovery services in the region.

Dave set up The Well when he recognised a gap in the provision of services during  off-hours and weekends for those people who wanted to achieve or maintain abstinence. The first hub was launched in Lancaster in 2012, and a further four sites quickly followed in Lancashire and Cumbria (in the North-West of England).The majority of staff at The Well have lived experience of substance misuse and offending histories.

The Well has always been shaped, designed and delivered by the people it serves and supplemented by the assumption that both the person and their family need to recover and are thus welcomed. The Well is also open to people with prescription drug histories, mental health issues and trauma, and nearly all the people served have experienced CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The Well is based on the assumption that ‘Where we serve our community, we become active citizens in the community’.

The Social Supermarket

A Social Supermarket has been designed as a positive way of supporting those on low incomes, tackling poor diet and overcoming health inequalities, through the provision of surplus stock sold at heavily subsidised prices.

Since store’s opening in November 2019, Wellfed Social Supermarket has had a footfall of over 5,000 people and has also resulted in 279 referrals into The Well Communities through various mechanisms of support.  The social supermarket has also facilitated (including but not limited to ) delivery of over 1500 hot meals to marginalised families, issued over 150 food bank vouchers, issued 17 free flu vaccination vouchers, delivered 37 emergency food parcels, delivered 242 sets of ingredients and recipes, and assisted families with welfare signposting in respect of white goods.

Well Fed social supermarket secures high-quality short dated food from retail and manufacture supply chains that would otherwise be sent as waste to landfill but is fit for human consumption. We sell this food to customers at reduced prices, typically an average of one-third of normal retail prices. Marketing is carefully targeted at residents on the lowest incomes and thus at greatest risk of experiencing food poverty and related health issues.

The social supermarket model innovates further by working with local agencies to provide a range of on-site support services. These are tailored to members’ needs and help them overcome multiple barriers to getting out of poverty. On-site support, signposting and assertive linkage may include money advice, debt counselling, and courses on healthy eating and cooking on a budget, as well as employability and vocational skills training. The Well-Fed Social Supermarket is a non-profit organisation with all monies re-invested back into the local community.

The Well Communities Social Supermarket is a model which enables residents in Barrow in Furness to access the retail aspect of the social supermarket and our Fairshare Model Food clubs and to be included in The Well Communities  Building Better Opportunities (BBO) Project  which helps members benefit from the employment and business opportunities that are arising in Barrow in Furness both now and through the longer term delivery of the BBO programme.

This is linked to the Well-fed Food Clubs which provide a sustainable alternative to free food distribution and foodbanks. Through a £3 per week payment, members receive approximately £10 to £15 worth of food each week while reducing food waste by working closely with fareshare North West by collecting the food from the regional Hub in Preston. The Well has built up a very strong membership of marginalised families; most of the postcode areas we serve are listed in the indicies of multiple deprivation. Over 30 tonnes of surplus food has been distributed to date.

The whole model is based on looking upstream and looking behind the actual need for discounted food. Each family has difficulties which mean they need to obtain goods due to some form of financial hardship; the intention is to determine such reasons and help in some way to alleviate these problems. These are then linked to in-house support mechanisms which Include assertive linkage to local statutory and third sector organisations.

Building Recovery and Community Capital                                                                     

The Well identifies people’s recovery capital, identifies their  passions, and works with them to create enterprises. They have had several successful enterprise ideas, the first being The Well itself, but they have also had some failures or learning that were not so successful. To get to the successful Social Supermarket idea we went through a process of ideas and attempts, the first being a catering trailer business, where the Well bought and renovated a trailer and employed a member of our community as he had experience as a chef, got a pitch for the trailer, but the marketing strategy of announcing that we were recovering addicts and alcoholics was the wrong thing to do as in the first year the project  was working at a loss. The lesson was that the most important factor about a food trailer is the pitch, and let this business go but kept the company name Well-Fed and started up foodbanks.

The other successful business, “Well maintained” used the employment capital and experience within the Well membership, including carpenters, electricians, plasterers and so on, and renovated our Dolton Road Hub which is now the location for The Social Supermarket.

Conclusion

There were false first steps on the road to creating the Social Supermarket, but the commitment to the principles of peer empowerment, community engagement and CHIME have resulted in a number of successes that contribute to the growth, wellbeing and inclusiveness of the recovery community as an active and vibrant part of the local, lived community. Not all of these enterprises will succeed, but the skill base, dedication and creativity of the recovery community will ensure a net gain and a positive contribution to individual recovery journeys, family inclusion and community connections and growth.

2020 Faces & Voices of Recovery Annual Report

February 13, 2021