20th October issue

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Harnessing energy

Why old tricks often work best in the internet age

There’s a different energy at local events compared to national ones. Maybe it’s because more people know each other, or maybe it’s because people are swapping information that they can make use of immediately – information that can affect what you do tomorrow.

This certainly seemed the case at Greater Manchester Service User conference this week (page 10-11), which must have involved a tremendous effort of co-ordination between local agencies and service users. We know the amount of effort that goes into organising an event, but if they’ve helped a fraction of their delegates to take the next step forward into getting support, housing, work or just advice and friendship, then it’s got to be worthwhile. Even the steering group, made up of service users and representatives from all the local DATs and the NTA, must be worth the (no-doubt headache-inducing) effort involved in coordinating meetings, just for the relationships it encourages between participants who might not otherwise meet. Aside from the general good vibe, the practical sessions certainly demonstrated the possibilities of practical local co-ordination on aftercare.

Several of the Greater Manchester services talked about their initiatives involving leisure activities and exercise, and emphasised that creating a sense of wellbeing in recovery is as important as having financial stability. Our cover story (page 6-7) demonstrates how East London service users have harnessed their group’s energy, quite literally, through creating a cycling project. Successfully securing grant money to set it up, they’ve become not only fitter and more energetic, but also more mobile, more visible, and proud to raise awareness that people recovering from the soul-destroying state of addiction can be at least as high achieving as any other person that’s motivated to do well.

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