Conversations about Recovery Event March 2013

North Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) held a ‘Conversations about Recovery’ event on 1st March 2013 at the Volunteer Rooms, Irvine.  The event was an opportunity for people in North Ayrshire to come together and discuss recovery from alcohol and other drug problems from different perspectives.  It was also an opportunity for service users and practitioners/service providers to exchange views and share some of their respective work.  

The event was attended by over 90 people and included representatives from:

  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • KA Leisure
  • North Ayrshire Council Addiction Services
  • The Ayrshire Community Trust
  • NHS Addiction Services
  • Ayrshire Council on Alcohol
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Money Matters
  • The Credit Union
  • Health and Homelessness
  • Strathclyde Police
Each of the above services provided a stall around the periphery of the hall where people could find out more about what they do and how they do it.

The event itself used the world café model where the hall was set out with 15 round tables with 6 seats at each.  The format of the event invited the participants to discuss a series of questions at their tables and then provide feedback to the large group, before moving to another table and discussing the next question.  

The questions, some of the feedback and some additional points are noted below.

What does recovery mean to you?

This question has been asked at a number of events and has involved people in recovery, service providers, managers, mutual aid facilitators and supporters of recovery. This has allowed for a local definition of recovery to be synthesised from a wide range of responses:
'Recovery from alcohol and other drug problems is a deeply personal journey which anyone is capable of embarking upon.  Recovery is something which you can do for yourself though rarely by yourself; it can involve the growth and development of individuals, families and communities.  Recovery is empowering and an exciting opportunity.  For many, recovery is about 'giving something back' to your community, to your family and to yourself.  At its heart recovery is about improving quality of life, progressing and moving forward at your own pace'.    

North Ayrshire Working Definition.

What things support recovery?

This question found people reflecting upon things which had facilitated their own recovery journey as well as identifying things they were aware had supported others.  There were a range of assets to recovery discussed, and something which was suggested is that the things which can support the initiation of recovery can often differ from the things which support its sustainment. Recovery supports were also loosely split into two broad types, internal and external factors.  

Examples of internal recovery capital included hope, trust, confidence, self belief, knowing your limits, optimism and looking forward.

External recovery capital included services, mutual aid support, peer support, participating in opportunities when they’re available and family, friends and other allies of recovery (just knowing these people want you to do well).

What exists in North Ayrshire which supports recovery?

This question required people to identify factors specific to North Ayrshire which can be seen to support recovery.  It was an interesting response, with the first point fed back to the large group identifying a lack of provision.  This seemed to galvanise others to ensure actual provision was identified.  Things which support recovery in North Ayrshire were suggested to include opportunities for social activities, Local Authority services, volunteering opportunities, support groups, NHS Services, learning opportunities, Job Centres and Citizens Advice, churches and faith based supports.  

This question served to raise awareness of all participants that while we can often veer towards the negatives and be tempted to say that there are few resources (for whatever purpose), after discussion we were able to see that there are in fact many things in North Ayrshire which support recovery.  That being said, there is also plenty room for development and improvement which our next question focussed on.  

What opportunities exist within North Ayrshire to further support recovery?

This question asked people to consider the points made throughout the day, knowing what recovery means to us, knowing what supports recovery generally and more specifically what exists in North Ayrshire to support recovery and then consider what opportunities exist to allow North Ayrshire to become more recovery orientated.  

There was a clear theme emerging that recovery in all its forms and the things which support it needs to be more publicised: there need to be more diverse and visible examples of recovery as a lived experience, we need to celebrate our successes as hard as we commiserate our losses, the positives of recovery should be highlighted and can be used to counter the stigma of addiction, recovery as a process which actually takes place in our local communities must be communicated to the same communities.  There was also an appetite expressed by people in recovery to be involved and included in services at different levels such as design and delivery.  Suffice to say that while there was recognition that there are many things in North Ayrshire which support recovery, there are many opportunities to develop into a more recovery conducive community.         

In concluding

The event as a whole was seen to be very successful.  Points raised in the evaluation included people feeling that their voices were heard, it was a great opportunity for networking and exchanging views and that the event was very well attended.  Points for future events would be to publicise it more, ensure more people in recovery are invited and attend and make sure that things that are discussed are acted upon where appropriate.  To that end, there’s a lot of work to be doing and we hope to be able to share these through the year and at future events.  


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