The Recovery Walk was like a massive family reunion

29 September 2021
Recovery Walk 2021

As Recovery Month 2021 draws to a close, thousands gathered on Saturday for the Recovery Walk. Viki Fox, our LEAP Out Of Hours service manager, describes an inspiring, emotional and heartfelt day for the recovery community

“What do we want?  Recovery! 
When do we want it? Now!!!”

These were the chants as we headed through the streets in Perth for the 2021 Recovery Walk Scotland. 

There was a procession of over 2000 of us, creating quite a stir.  There were community groups, people at all stages of recovery, families with children and other recovery supporters of all ages.  We had people at their windows and in their gardens clapping, cheering and waving.  It was quite emotional and I felt really proud to be a part of it.   

Cyrenians have been supporting those enrolled on the LEAP 12-week residential rehabilitation programme since March 2021. We are based at Firrhill and can accommodate up to 8 individuals. On the day of the walk, I joined the rest of the LEAP-ers at the Randolph Crescent accommodation to get the coach together as a unit.  We were held up for some time by the flurry of coaches and cars heading to North Inch Park, with so many coming for the Recovery Walk, but we made it there in time for a beautiful ceremony where people laid red roses in the River Tay in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to addiction. 

It took us around 1 hour to walk the circuit before returning to the Recovery Village.  There were a host of stalls from organisations such as Favor UKTurning Point Scotland and UK Smart Recovery.  There were some freebies to be had for sure!  There were also bouncy castles and games for the younger ones (height restrictions applied unfortunately).  There was copious amounts of tea, coffee and Irn Bru (of course!) as well as post-walk burgers kindly supplied by the Rapid Relief Team 

The opening statement made really good points about the importance of relationships in recovery, and the speakers inspired me. My quote of the day was from Angela Constance MSP, the Scottish Minister for Drug Policy: 

“Recovery is possible for every individual, every community, and every family”  

There were several live bands playing, many of whom had band members in recovery.  There was a lot of singing, dancing and plenty of laughing.   

But what was most striking to me were the interactions between everyone. There was hugging, smiling and shouts of “I haven’t seen you for ages” all around. It was like a massive family reunion. I think it was especially poignant for those who have started their recovery journeys more recently. Many support groups have been meeting predominantly online and there hasn’t been as much opportunity to engage with the recovery community as there would have been pre-pandemic. 

Cue Edinburgh Recovery Activities (ERA)!  They have been meeting throughout the pandemic, and Mick and Jemma were on hand for the walk, chatting with people and excitedly speaking about all of the amazing activities they have planned. ERA joined the Cyrenians family just this month and I am excited for the potential of us working closer together, maximising opportunities for recovery in the community. 

There was a real festival vibe to the day, despite it in parts being sombre, emotional (who? me?!), joyous, educational and heart-warming.  It was totally worth going for the ambience alone.   

Sign me up for next year!