Attending our Community Rehab Group graduation last Monday was a bittersweet moment. The stories I heard from those graduating and the extraordinary sense of achievement I witnessed was inspiring. But in amongst it all I had to recognise it was the last one Cyrenians will run as we sadly lost the tender for the Recovery service and it transfers to another provider on Monday.
Given we have been running a recovery service since 2006 in West Lothian, we all feel this loss very deeply. I have long held views about the madness and utter ineffectiveness of competitive tendering as a process for deciding the best way for the state to choose who provide services which are about care and relationships, community and human flourishing. It rarely works well and it requires decision making based on evidence and indicators which are not actually core to what will really deliver success and transformation. But I am going to climb down off that particular high horse for now and reflect instead on how last Monday reminded me in all things, even difficult spaces, to start by being grateful for what is good.
I am grateful West Lothian Council’s process was better than many I have experienced. They at least attempted to have human focus whilst sticking to the rules given to them to work within.
More importantly, I am grateful that, though we are losing very valued colleagues whom we will very much miss, their departure has been protected in that the relationships they have with those we have journeyed with in the Recovery Service will continue. It is those relationships which are the bedrock of the work we have done. As many of those who spoke on Monday referenced, their journey may have had a clinical trigger of addiction but the salvation was the friendships they were able to create – as one graduate put – “you are my family now”. Cyrenians work is fundamentally about the building of trusted relationships and thankfully these can continue as they are the thing which matters most.
I am grateful too for the insights I have received over the last 5 years from those in the tough reality of addiction; how it is a journey of tiny steps and not one which is in a straight line. How the power of peer support lies in knowing you are not alone and someone will care no matter how many times you stumble enroute. How the relationships which transform are built fundamentally on reciprocity and equality. I cannot count the number of times I have been told the best thing about Cyrenians is “no-one judges you”. To achieve a culture which can be described in those terms is an extraordinary testament to the staff for which I am very grateful.
Am I am grateful for the gift of the stories I have heard. Like the graduate at a previous event who declared they were in their 50’s and that day was the first day they had been clean of drugs and alcohol since they were 11; they had turned to drink and drugs because of the abuse they were experiencing but now they were on a journey of hope and flourishing.
So despite my sadness at the loss of the Recovery Service I remain grateful for what all those involved over the years, staff, volunteers and those we have journeyed with, have brought Cyrenians in wisdom, inspiration and hope. And from this sad place, new things will happen. I know this because I have seen it so; last Monday and many times before.