This week our guest blogger is Tess Hamilton, Community Development Worker at Cyrenians Recovery Hub for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The Hub is a safe space for people to meet and support each other on their journey away from addiction. It offers a welcoming place for people to drop in and have a chat and a cup of tea, as well as hosting a range of activities (mostly peer led) such as Lunch Club, Reiki and Keep Fit.
I attended some interesting training this week around how to write a blog. The star blogger who delivered this training was my CEO, Ewan Aitken, a man who inspires others to do more than the norm. So here I am sitting at home due to a red weather warning that has been put upon us by the Met Office, working from home, keeping in touch with clients and making sure contingencies have been put in place for the rest of the week.
So I put together a plan for my blog (as they are key), have a purpose, write and research away. So here is the purpose of both my work and my blog. I work with some of the most vulnerable people in society and I love what I do. So why do I love what I do? Well, these individuals come from all different backgrounds and could be me or you. I love the mix of people, the different personalities, and the different chat you get. I love to hear the stories people offer and the time we spend together (mostly eating our body weights in chocolate!). And, well, it’s simple: it’s because I want to take people out of their everyday environment of sitting alone in isolation. I am someone they can talk to, who will listen without judgement of their past and who helps them look to the future. I work in the field of drug and alcohol addiction, or more so in the area of recovery from addiction, where I work in a community of recovering addicts, supporting them to make the best of the person that they can be.
So what does recovery mean? Well, there are many different definitions (here is where the research stuff comes in handy). According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., there are no formal definitions of what recovery is, but they do indicate that recovery is a more complex process than we think. I speak to many different individuals who have a recovery journey that is different from the next; they may travel a different path with different obstacles and challenges – however, the final destination is the same. If you speak to anyone in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction they will all say that they want to be better and are now looking for fulfilling lives with purpose (a bit like my blog). I agree with the above website that when those around us are looking for recovery, if they are surrounded by a strong community of friends, family, support networks and peers, they will be more successful than those who are isolated.
So, how do we define a ‘recovery community’? It can have a number of different things; these can be a range of different people, places and supports. The community is essentially a network of support. It can include people from different professional fields, such as addiction workers, criminal justice services and housing, who can be from the voluntary or the statutory sector. The network can also include peers who are also in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. It can even include simply an individual who just understands. A ‘recovery community’ can be a constant in someone’s life or something they just float in and out of. It offers a sense of belonging, of being a part of something bigger, and it offers hope to those who have given up any kind of hope that things will get better.
The Recovery Hub offers a community of peers: like-minded individuals who support each other, who journey alongside each other and offer help and guidance to those who are not as far along in their recovery. A community of family and friends also ideally need to be a part of someone’s extended support network to offer support when needed. At the Recovery Hub, I see this community working daily, the intricacies of a family of unique individuals who work as part of a team – whether they are laughing or crying, the people I meet are there for each other.
These are my observations from spending time with those who want to be part of a larger recovery community, for those who want to recover from drug and alcohol addiction.
James is someone who is new to this recovery community as he recently started coming along to the Hub. During our chats he has said that he has “never experienced anything like this” and that it is this community and those who are involved at all levels which has given him a sense of belonging. He no longer feels alone, and told me that he has “something to get up for in the mornings now”. For people like James this recovery community is a lifeline and the start of something new.
Cyrenians is an organisation that I am very proud to work for. The values of our organisation are respect, integrity, innovation and compassion, and I see this ethos shown in everything that we do. We support individuals to become better versions of themselves, to do what they never thought was achievable and to soar for the sky. The communities we build as part of Cyrenians, such as the Recovery Hub, allow those we journey with to do all these things. And, (at the risk of sounding like a proud mother), each and every individual who attends the Hub has the potential to do great things.