16th July issue

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The heavy burden on carers hits home in our cover story, but the terrible edge to this grandmother’s story is that through all the hardship and worry of looking after her grandchildren, she has not even had chance to grieve for her own daughter. At a stage in her life when she should be spoiling the kids with treats, she has been shocked back into the role of enforcer, counsellor and provider and left to cope entirely on her own. The Mind the Gap project is campaigning for raised awareness and a commitment to financial support in line with foster payments, and there can be fewer more deserving causes.

The results of a much-needed helping hand were very visible at The Quay Project in Plymouth (page 10) where Broadreach House have pulled off an amazing refurbishment, with help from Futurebuilders, to totally revamp their aftercare. The building was amazingly well equipped, but what really impressed me was the positive and industrious vibe that hit me as soon as I went through the front door. Service users told me they were making the experience work for them, and were anchoring themselves in training and work experience. Their addiction was not their sole preoccupation anymore and their achievements stood alongside their ambition in justifying the staff’s faith in them. Alongside, Chrissy Richman’s enterprise scheme is helping entrepreneurial service users get started in business – an enormous stride towards rediscovering skills and talents that had become submerged for years by an ‘addict’ identity.

Equally impressive was the commitment to those who are not yet as far along their journey. ‘If anybody has the temerity to relapse and stop coming we actually go and find them!’ Chrissy Richman told me. It seems to be working: she added that 94 per cent of those who tried to drop out have re-engaged. Even if they only start by coming for lunch, they are beginning to tune into a culture of acceptance and support that lets them take one day at a time.

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