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COLLECTIViSM #12, September 2019



CONTENTS #12, September 2019

5 # 6 # 8 # 9 # 11 # 12 # 14 # 16 # 18 # 20 #

Kate Penman

Editorial Sunny Dhadley

Recovery is Everybody’s Business! Recovery Near You

Recovery Support Matt Lay

The Vermin Within Ollie

About Smart Recovery Chris Cole

Recovery Tom Hayden

Our Hope for the Future Phil

Rehab Gavin Rogers

Drunk Trunk Matthieu Lambert

Making Homelessness History

24 # 25 # 26 # 28 # 30 # 32 # 34 # 36 # 38 # 40 #

Peter’s Parents

There is always hope… Dr Damien Francis

There really is hope… Merylen Pearce and Paul McKenzie

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance Amo

Amo's Story Gurpaal Judge

Lotus Sanctuary and Recovery Kate Penman

Interview with Vanessa Charlie Taylor

One Big Family Chris Manley

Wolverhampton Society of Artists Outreach Marcus

Recovery Steve

Being Clean

Poem (Opposite Page): ‘Recovery’ by Marcus See Marcus' article: ‘Recovery’ on page 38 Cover Image: 'Phil' by Chris Manley See Chris Manley's article: ‘Wolverhampton Society of Artists Outreach’ on page 36 #



Kate Penman

EDITORiAL COLLECTIViSM cont.. Edition 12

Welcome to edition 12 of COLLECTIViSM. This edition is dedicated to Recovery Month, to celebrate the achievements of those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Recovery Month raises awareness of addiction issues and the agencies working with people affected by addiction. Its aim is to help more people find recovery by spreading the message that prevention works, treatment is effective and recovery is a lived reality.

Common themes running through this edition include: an initial reluctance to trust, the power of hope and most prominently, the desire for those in recovery to give back to the community, and help those still in addiction. Many volunteer as mentors with SUIT, Changing Lives, Church Shelter and Good Shepherd Ministry. Their lived experience is invaluable, both as testimony to others and as advocates within various agencies.

By sharing people’s inspirational testimonies, we hope to challenge stigma, encourage those yet to embark on their own recovery and inform a wider audience of the crucial work that is ongoing in our city. One exciting development is the upcoming combined relocation of the Church Shelter and the Good Shepherd Ministry (pg 14) to create a 24/7 homelessness hub, where recovery services can be better accessed by those most in need.

This edition features art works and articles written by those who are either in recovery themselves, or working alongside people in recovery. COLLECTIViSM has recently been awarded a grant by Creative Black Country to showcase the stories and artwork of people in recovery at the Light House. The exhibition is a chance for people to celebrate others’ journeys in recovery and gives a platform to those in recovery to share their experiences.



Image: ‘Signpost’ by Lyn




#Recovery is Everybody’s Business! Sunny Dhadley

RECOVERY I E V E R Y B O DY Sunny Dhadley: FRSA / Social Leadership

Human potential, though not always apparent, is there waiting to be discovered and invited forth.

William Purkey

Sunny Dhadley FRSA is a: Consultant, Impact Accelerator, Leadership Coach and TEDx/ Motivational Speaker. Please visit his website: Sunny Dhadley | Social Leadership Guy

In September each year, the UK celebrates the achievements of those who have suffered from drug and alcohol addiction. It is an opportunity to reflect upon the progress that thousands of people have made in overcoming their relationship with their substance(s) of choice. This is important for the individuals who have suffered harm, but also demonstrates to wider society that human beings going through difficult chapters in their lives can make positive changes and get closer to a place of meaning and purpose. My personal journey of being addicted to heroin and crack cocaine meant that for many years I lived on the fringes of mainstream society. I would plead with loved ones as to the value of my existence, but would be met with debilitating stigma and judgement. We cannot totally blame others for their lack of compassion, as policies, systems, laws and the media often deter society from seeing the human being behind these experiences. After detoxing, I spent over a decade leading a peer led service, SUIT (Service User Involvement Team). I had an opportunity to offer pragmatic support and advice to people experiencing difficulties with drugs and alcohol.

S ’ S B U S I N E S S!


Recovery is the platform from which potential can be realised, but much work needs to be undertaken in order to realise this potential. The process should be initiated as far downstream as possible (i.e. in childhood, or from the time an individual first accesses services – not when they leave). Systems and services can often be cumbersome and overly complex, making navigating them very difficult. At SUIT, we needed to have a strategic oversight and an intricate understanding on how to make them effective for those that we were supporting. During 2016/17 we received funding equivalent to incarcerating 1 adult in a category B private prison for a year, and worked alongside 1072 individuals, delivering 5283 interventions covering 72 areas of need. In total we worked with 426 organisations, from a range of sectors, to achieve the best outcome for the individual. It is important to understand that these resources are mostly already in existence. The concept of recovery can be broken down into a multitude of achievements. It can range from attending an appointment on time, gaining skills and qualifications, not going back into prison, managing

finances more effectively, sustaining a tenancy and finding employment etc. These are challenging times for drug and alcohol services as they are being asked to meet increasing need with decreasing budgets. I would suggest that rather than incarcerating those who use drugs, that the Government should shift their approach to health, housing, economic and social support. This would free up substantial funds currently used to incarcerate thousands each year. It’s heart-warming to see the collaborations that are operating in Wolverhampton, with pathways being set up across multiple areas of need – from homelessness support (Good Shepherd Ministry, P3, Wolverhampton Homes and The Church Shelter), to peer support being embedded (SUIT) to other work related initiatives with the development of social enterprises and training opportunities. So for now let us wholeheartedly celebrate Recovery Month, but be mindful that there is much work yet to be done in finding solutions to unlock the tremendous untapped potential that exists.



#Recovery Support Recovery Near You


RECOVERY SUPPORT At RNY we believe that recovery starts from the moment that a client first contacts the service. This is reflected in the comprehensive range of support that is offered alongside and following any required treatment programme. This support includes 1:1 and group interventions, activities, signposting and wraparound support to address wider needs, digital/online options, peer support and mutual aid groups. Recovery Near You works across 2 main venues in Wolverhampton. Pitt Street is where the majority of assessments and treatment interventions take place. Thornhurst, on Connaught Road, houses our thriving Recovery Hub which offers a full timetable of structured recovery support groups, extended brief intervention courses, family support, recreational activities and drop-in sessions for information and advice. Our service users report that the groups, activities and welcoming environment that the Recovery Hub offers are a powerful no-pressure way to explore past or new interests with other likeminded people. They can also learn from others how they are dealing with the challenges and achievements of addressing their own substance use and improving their well-being through the SMART Recovery program. Recovery Near You received a grant from Public Health England`s Capital Fund to improve their facilities further and provide a

range of multi-agency support services with a welcoming "home away from home" for vulnerable families to remove the stigma around receiving treatment. Councillor Hazel Malcolm, the City of Wolverhampton Council`s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing said: "Evidence suggests our substance misuse services are among the most successful in the country in helping people recover but there`s still much more we can and need to do". Friends and family play a huge role in someone’s recovery and children can also feel the impact of their parent’s substance use. We recognise that we need to be delivering services for the whole family. There will be dedicated time when service users and their children can access the building for a range of activities designed to improve a range of areas such as communication, play and learning activities, healthy eating and provide opportunities for families to spend time together in a relaxed setting. SUIT (Service User Involvement Team) manages our volunteer programme in Wolverhampton. Volunteers are integral to the achievement of meaningful recovery and are very much a core part of our service delivery throughout the range of treatment and recovery interventions. Volunteers deliver a wide variety of interventions and hold a range of roles including being a friendly face to meet and greet service users in reception, delivering peer-support interventions, supporting outreach activities and events and many others. For those interested in volunteering please do not hesitate to contact us. #


#The Vermin Within Matt Lay


I thought up the vermin character to help me understand what I’d learned over the years about addiction and recovery in the Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) groups. The vermin is my addiction and must be kept asleep as once it has been awakened in my mind it requires feeding and hunts down its substance of choice. The substance travels through one’s veins into fingertips and toes feeding the vermin and keeping it fed. I learned about unification lowering at Recovery Near You. It’s a technical term about reducing your units safely because you can have fits coming off alcohol. In

my mind by slowing or lowering the units you can safely put the vermin back to bed. Even after stopping its feed the vermin can stay awake for three days. Over the years of addiction, thinking that you’ve recovered you can still have a blip. You think you can have just one drink but it is never just one drink for me. The vermin awakes and it wants feeding. Now the vermin is asleep. I can go to concerts to see gigs and there’s a bar there but I have a pint of lime and soda. I’m there to see the band. If I was drinking I wouldn’t even see the gig.

Image: ‘The Vermin Within’ by Matt Lay, exhibited as part of ‘Recovery Exhibition’, Light House (see page 42)



Image: ‘Positive Thinking’, recorded during a SMART group session at Thornhurst, photographed by Stuart Manley

#About Smart Recovery Ollie

ABOUT SMART RECOVERY Ollie: Volunteer, Recovery Near You

One of the key groups that Recovery Near You (RNY) offers are SMART recovery groups. These are peer-led, mutual aid groups, facilitated by RNY volunteers who are trained in this specific programme. They are extremely well attended with groups frequently having to be split into separate sessions due to high attendance. They are open to all clients, regardless of where they are in their individual recovery journey and can provide an invaluable source of support for them alongside regular key worker or other structured sessions. SMART Recovery is a client led recovery group. The purpose of this is to empower people with practical skills, tools and support so that they can manage their addictive behaviour and lead satisfying and meaningful lives. SMART Recovery is similar to AA or NA, however there is no 12 steps nor is there a religious, higher power involved. People are not their behaviours, so stigmatising language like ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’ is not used. Participants are free to engage with AA, NA or any other services which may also assist them with their issues. There is no one path to recovery! If you have an issue with alcohol, drugs, gambling or any other addictive behaviours then SMART groups are definitely worth

attending. SMART groups are generally run by volunteers who have been through the system and pass on their knowledge and experience to their peers. On a personal note I attended SMART in the Summer of 2013 and it has certainly helped me with my recovery. I have now been sober for over six years and now I facilitate groups three times a week. In the groups you will meet others who have had similar issues with whom you can share experiences. Every group begins with a ‘check in’ with everyone checking in on how they are feeling that day. Often our groups will look at coping mechanisms which can be crucial when in recovery. In order to attend the SMART group sessions you must be engaging with treatment with Recovery Near You, SUIT or Thornhurst. I do hope you find SMART on your recovery journey. It certainly helped me in my recovery.

S M A R T: Self-Management and Recovery Training Contact: Recovery Near You Adults: 0300 200 2400 Young People: 0300 123 3360 Lines open 24/7 – self referrals can be made online



#Recovery Chris Cole


Chris Cole: SUIT Project Coordinator My name is Chris Cole and I am the Service User Involvement Team (SUIT) Project Coordinator. I have been in recovery for 9 years and I’ve experienced many ups and downs whilst going through the process of trying to find myself. In my early days of recovery I found it very hard to get one day clean and to live life on life’s terms without the use of substances. With the support of others in recovery and mutual aid groups, I managed to find my way in life. I will always be thankful for those who have supported me throughout my recovery as without the support I received from those people, I would hate to think where I would be today. I found myself in a lot of negative situations when I was in active addiction and experienced the usual things that come with living that type of lifestyle. My life had come to a point where I couldn’t live the way I was for much longer. I had a choice, either listen to those around me who were saying that I’d never amount to anything and just give up or I could engage with local services and access the support available to me. Exhausted, both physically and mentally I decided to try something different. I accessed help from a local treatment centre that referred me to a rehab and they introduced me to others in recovery. I’d heard about recovery but had never seen it or experienced it, so this was something new to me. I welcomed it with open arms and an open mind. I will not say

that achieving and maintaining recovery is easy as it’s a huge learning curve. I had to challenge my personal thoughts, beliefs and behaviours in order for me to progress which was difficult at times. What I can say now is that active addiction and everything associated with it is in the past and that the person I once was now seems like a stranger. Once I'd achieved recovery, I wanted to help others who were suffering the same struggles as I did as I know how hard that life is. I didn’t gain a lot from school and I never went to college. I had no work experience so I became a volunteer within a treatment aftercare service. Volunteering felt right! I was helping others and my skills came from my past experiences. I no longer felt like I had wasted years of my life in active addiction. I now feel I was completing research for my new career. I trained and became a qualified substance misuse worker and was in that post for 6 years. The opportunity then came up to be the Project Coordinator of SUIT. I’m very happy to be managing this great service. I’m supported by inspirational colleagues who are also in recovery and share a passion to help others. The moral of the story is that it is never too late to turn your life around. If the same obsessive behaviours around addiction can be channelled into something positive,

then the sky’s the limit! I now have more in my life than I ever thought possible and have the peace of mind that I’m doing the right thing and contributing to society in a positive way. If you are currently experiencing drug or alcohol addiction issues and live within the Wolverhampton area, then please come and visit us at SUIT where one of our Experts by Experience staff members will happily support you with any difficulties you may be facing. There are many new and exciting changes coming to SUIT, with a lot of opportunities for “Experts with Experience” to be trained and become a part of the SUIT team. If you’d like to become a part of our volunteer team then please do not hesitate to contact us.


16 Temple Street WV2 4AN 01902 328983 SUITWolves

Image: Chris Cole, photographed by Chris Cole



#Our Hope for the Future Tom Hayden



Tom Hayden: Manager, Good Shepherd Ministry Too often we see the negative face of addiction and mental health, but September is a time for us to focus on the positives and carry a message of hope to people still suffering. I currently manage a Homeless charity called the Good Shepherd Ministry and over the last year and a half we’ve been developing our services and bringing a recovery ethos to the way we work. The Good Shepherd has always heavily involved people with lived experience in the delivery of our services. We work with some of the most excluded and disadvantaged people in the community, but we always believe in their ability to change and their personal strengths and skills. In November we’re moving to a new centre opposite the Molineux football stadium so we can provide a space and services that support and sustain people’s recovery from homelessness, addiction and poor mental health. We’re partnering with Enterprise Homes Group (EHG) and Birmingham Rotary Club to provide the “Shelter Bus” and we’re licensing EHG space in the new building for the Church Shelter. The Good Shepherd centre will have a dedicated training room where we will offer on-site training courses and employability support for our service users. We will provide clinical space and counselling rooms within the building so people using our services can access specialist health

and wellbeing care to improve their physical and mental health. The new building will support people from homelessness into temporary accommodation while also meeting their health needs and providing opportunities to use their strengths, gain skills, knowledge and employment. Our overall vision is to end homelessness in Wolverhampton and create sustainable pathways out of homelessness and poverty, but we can’t do this alone. The new centre has a multiagency hub where our partners EHG, SUIT, Wolverhampton Homes, Refugee and Migrant Centre, P3 and Changing Lives can come in and deliver services. Our new centre is an ambitious step for the Good Shepherd, Wolverhampton as a city and most importantly for the people that need our services. Addiction leads to isolation, disconnection and hopelessness but positive relationships, connection and belief leads to recovery. That’s our goal for everyone who comes to the Good Shepherd.

Image: ‘Our Hope for the Future’ by Anna Smith, exhibited as part of COLLECTIViSM: ‘Recovery Exhibition’, Light House (see page 42)









Phil: Good Shepherd Volunteer I went into rehab June 2018. I had decided that I had hit rock bottom, and I had become tired of breaking certain people’s hearts. My drinking was that out of control I was putting myself in vulnerable situations which could have cost me my life on at least two occasions. I found it hard in rehab, because I had to address my past, and deal with my demons. That’s why I will always be grateful to Livingstone House. It was a real culture shock to me, having to open up in big groups, in front of people I had never met before, and there was no hiding place. I found it difficult because I have always had trust issues. I found the concern groups hard because of the way I was brought up, not to show emotion or to not appear weak. But I know they were necessary to see where we were at in our recovery. You might have thoughts of leaving or relapsing, which could have a domino effect because that could take someone else out of the door.

And like I was taught in rehab, while you’re dithering, some drug addict, or alcoholic could be dying on the street who desperately wants to come to rehab. We had morning groups, where you aired your views, and told the other peers about yourself. I stayed in rehab for five and a half months. Rehab gave me the tools to work with and I learnt about the twelve steps, but I know that that’s not enough, you have to want your recovery and work at it. I learnt alcoholism is a sickness and the biggest killer. After rehab I came back to Wolverhampton. I spent some time in a shared house, run by Hope into Action. I am really grateful to them. I started back volunteering at the Good Shepherd which I really enjoy because they have stepped up to the plate for me, which I haven’t always deserved. I have no problem giving back because it’s the right thing to do and I learnt about that in rehab. I now have my own flat and with help from friends at the Good Shepherd the future is bright.

Image: Phil, photographed by Stuart Manley



#Drunk Trunk Gavin Rogers


Gavin Rogers: Senior Lecturer Fine Art, University of Wolverhampton ‘ANIMALS, no less than man, inherit powerful instinctive drives to preserve their life and liberty: but the pursuit of happiness is a peculiarly human characteristic, as old, no doubt, as the dawn of consciousness and with it the heightened awareness of our own state of mind – and so has been the search for drugs to facilitate this pursuit.’ (Kessel and Walton, 1965, p.7) This project transposes themes and graphic elements of 1960's and 1970's Pelican books onto the landscape of contemporary post-utopian Birmingham. It takes inspiration from the identically titled book by Neil Kessel and Henry Walton, which discusses the epidemic of Alcoholism in 1960s America and Britain, presenting descriptions, problems and solutions for drug related addictions. The idea originated from a series of psychogeographic walks with my fellow artists Ally Standing (photography) and Bruno Grilo (Architecture). When walking around the canal networks we were quick to realise that these places, that sat just below the city, had become safe havens for vulnerable people to escape the city, places for people to cry, for addicts to take drugs, for alcoholics to drink. We began to notice floating blue off-licence bags (alcohol bags) floating in the water, peaceful yet disturbing. There was a whole set of unspoken issues, dreams and communities. Issues often caused by socio political structures, which have placed vulnerable people to new depths of consumption, and cycles of abuse. An elephant in the room issue,

except this time it was a pink elephant, drunk on alcohol, trying to numb the pains of the city above. I personally had a history of alcohol affecting close family members, which as a child I was unaware of. But now as an adult I realised the effect that alcohol has had on some members of my family. The elephant became a visual reminder of the joys, anxieties and issues facing addicts in and around the West Midlands canals. A visual entry point into conversations on the subject. This work led to a series of discussions, events and charity fundraisers in relation to the city and substance abuse. The elephant has been floated across the West Midlands region, including in the city centres of Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Coventry.

In moderation: a social ambassador, a party provocateur. In excess: a divine disaster, a numbed slur.

Image: ‘Drunk Trunk’ by Gavin Rogers. Drunk Trunk exhibited as part of COLLECTIViSM: ‘Recovery Exhibition’, Light House (see page 42)



#Making Homelessness History Matthieu Lambert

MAKING HOMELES SNES S H Matthieu Lambert: CEO, Enterprise Homes Group Historically the approach to tackling homelessness has been a fragmented one. Multiple agencies doing their level best to deliver their part of the solution. The challenge is that homelessness and hopelessness walk hand-in-hand and without hope the will to navigate a complex, fragmented pathway to recovery simply evaporates. The solution is to develop a unified pathway that is underpinned by a consistency of relationship. It is this consistency that allows a ‘relational gel’ to scaffold the journey and re-ignite hope in the individual. In Wolverhampton a small team of people have stepped back, taken a look at the bigger picture, and begun working together. The result is the Enterprise Homes Group a new charity that is breaking ground by bringing together five complementary streams of activity behind a single vision – to make homelessness history, leaving no one behind in the process. The team behind the new venture are quick to point out that this does not mean the eradication of homelessness as there will always be issues that lead to people losing their home. However, the belief is that in many circumstances homelessness can be

prevented before it happens, but where it is inevitable it should be short-lived. Enterprise Homes Group brings together a housing charity, a Social Enterprise training program, a Church Shelter, a Rotary Shelter Bus and a Social Enterprise Property Lettings agency – all working as a unified pathway to enable the homeless to realise individual pathways that lead to a new start in life. The Church Shelter is a key starting point for this unified pathway. Started in 2016, it provides a place of safety, rest and recuperation for rough sleepers. Essentially its ‘family run culture’ operates as an incubator for forming relationships. It is these relationships of trust that encourage the guests to take the first steps down a mentored pathway out of homelessness. This Autumn it is planning to move to new premises where it will co-locate with the Good Shepherd Ministry to provide a 24/7 ‘homelessness hub.’ This will allow agencies and individuals to work together to provide overnight accommodation, food services, training opportunities and structured day-round activities. The hub will provide opportunities to engage better by offering seamless support to the

ISTORY individual and will play a key role in the unified pathway. It will also be the base for a Rotary Shelter Bus that combines overnight accommodation with some clinical space so that it doubles up as a health/mental health provision for the city. It has 10 individual pod spaces and will be an extension of the Church Shelter overnight, and during the day will be strategically used by the Good Shepherd team. Enterprise Homes also embraces ReGen Maintenance Services launched in 2018 as a not-for-profit training subsidiary providing free residential training courses to individuals who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. It is akin to a residential apprenticeship that combines free accommodation with training in a trade. Providing the same supportive culture as the Shelter, it was established to enable the Shelter’s guests to progress towards employment and learn about maintaining a tenancy. As part of Enterprise Homes, Hope into Action: Black Country is the supported accommodation provider. It has an established track record of enabling churches to provide homes for

the homeless. It provides affordable accommodation (thereby encouraging employment) with support through Empowerment Officers and befriending teams from partner churches. It increases a resident’s capacity to maintain their tenancy by building a positive network of support. Finally, the fifth complementary stream of the Enterprise Homes Group is a Social Enterprise Lettings and Property Management agency. This will make more affordable accommodation available in the private sector working with landlords who would otherwise be wary of taking in former homeless individuals through fear related to Universal Credit risks.

This is a human centred approach that is seeking to put in place systems that are designed to achieve the desired outcomes of the individual and recognise that if things are not working for a particular individual, it is the system that is broken and needs to change and adapt, not the individual.

Image (following page): ‘The Lighthouse’ by Naomi Scarisbrick

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#There is always hope… Peter’s Parents


For over ten years, we watched our son Peter become increasingly enslaved to drink. We did all we could to salvage him, to convince his employers that he was merely temporarily sick, to throw away hidden bottles and deprive him of the means to purchase drink, even pursuing him at a distance as he entered pubs or shops selling alcohol, to try to persuade them not to serve him – all to no avail. It finally became too much for us and we sought an injunction for him to be forbidden access to enter our house and left him sleeping outside on the porch.

to see what else we might do to save him from himself. We were not given any magic solution. Instead we were told that there was nothing we could do for our alcoholic son but we had to look after ourselves to maintain our sanity, using the 12-step programme which Al-Anon shares with AA. We found hope and laughter and wonderful friendship amongst the Al-Anon family who had all, in one way or another, experienced the same despair and helplessness as we were experiencing. We learned little by little to ‘let go and let God’.

And miraculously, within a few weeks, One day, we learned that he had been Peter, having gone through hell, surfaced admitted to hospital with a head injury into sobriety with the phenomenal support after having been hit by a passing vehicle of AA and his sponsors. He emerged as he drunkenly crossed the street. We amazingly strong, resolute and dedicated found him in hospital with his head to helping others on their own journey to bandaged but determined to leave to get recovery. another drink. He disregarded our pleas for him to receive proper treatment and For us, the lesson is that we are we saw him, ignoring us, walk out powerless to change the of the hospital. The nurse who alcoholic but that there had cared for him told us is always hope – we that, if he continued on his have to take care current course, he would of ourselves be dead within a couple and trust that of months. As he our hope will SUPPORT GROUP FOR FAMILY disappeared from sight, be justified, we thought we would however Tuesday 7:30pm never see him again. unlikely it may Community Room, Wolverhampton Asda, seem. Sir Jack Hayward Way, Waterloo Road, Heartbroken, we went Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1 4DE to a meeting of Al-Anon




#There really is hope… Dr Damien Francis


The last place I ever wanted to end up was in an AA meeting. This was not my plan. The church halls, the contrived joy, the terrible tea, a room full of strangers banging on about their sober lives. Hardly rock ‘n’ roll. I had to be in a very, very bad place to end up there. But there I was in my first meeting a little under 13 years ago. A lost job, a lost relationship, family in desperate retreat. I was terrified, ashamed and hopeless. So, despite myself I was on a plastic chair, in a church hall, preparing to listen to the ramblings of someone I would surely have very little in common with. Twelve-step meetings often start with a speaker, and on this day, a youngish man of about my age told his story. This was a man – I’ll call him John – who had also lost a lot; his wife, a job – in fact a senior role at the Guinness drinks company (this impressed me!), alongside the usual psychological destruction. Although I did not want to listen and was debilitatingly anxious, there was something in what John said that resonated with me. I identified with his suffering, his self-destruction, his desire to be loved by everyone. But, importantly, as he told about how he was slowly clawing his life back, he gave me something else; a tiny bit of hope. Hope that there was something worth living for. Hope that my life would not be forever dull without alcohol. After the meeting John gave me his phone number and told me to call him if I wanted to drink. Two days later I did exactly that; my anxiety

in outer space. Disappointingly, he kindly explained that his job was to talk me out of a drink, not to join me. Instead he drove about 20km from his house in a village outside Wolverhampton to meet me as I paced about outside a pub, craving a fix of alcohol. I hated where I was living at the time and John offered to take me into his home for a couple of days to help me stay sober. He allowed me to stay for three months. We read the 12-step literature in the evening, we went to meetings, so many meetings and we laughed a lot. We met judges, teachers, cleaners, actors and made friends with people in meetings. John’s kindness symbolised the fellowship of 12 step recovery. So, wind the film forward to last week and I was sat in another AA meeting. This time it was in a room of a French Chateau. It was the morning of my wedding to a beautiful and hilarious fiancée I had met in recovery. About 20 of us sat and spoke from our hearts that morning. And the speaker? Well, John had fallen on hard times financially and his health had suffered a little. But, thanks to AA and the life I had built up through recovery, I was able to support him to come to France and pay for his room in the Chateau, next to our suite! John told his story again and we laughed and wept. We shared back our stories. And then we had the best party ever. There really is hope.



#Everyone Deserves a Second Chance Merylen Pearce and Paul McKenzie



Merylen Pearce: Hope into Action: Black Country (HIA:BC) Manager Paul McKenzie: Empowerment Worker MP: K first came to our attention via a referral from a local church who were supporting K’s mom. I met with him and he was very engaging, attended all the necessary appointments in our assessment process and we decided to house him. However K failed to disclose his addiction issues. Of course these came to light once housed - he failed to engage, missed appointments, couldn’t pay his utilities. K was in denial around his drug issues and was vulnerable to exploitation by other drug users. I went round with food one evening and he finally opened up to me. He admitted to begging in the street so that he could buy Subitex (a replacement heroin treatment). It was the street begging that saw K return to prison. I met with him the day after he left prison. After many previous warnings, I had to serve K his Notice to Determine (an eviction notice). I told him that he could turn this around should he agree to work with us. K was happy with this, thanking me for the chance to change. He had imagined that he’d lost our support and would be homeless again. PM: I took over from Merylen as K’s support worker after his release from prison. The conditions placed on K by the court and HIA:BC meant that K had to engage with ourselves and Recovery

Near You. For the first time K showed a real willingness to work with us. He was happy that we attend all his appointments together. As a result I go to his Universal Credit, probation and Recovery Near You (RNY) appointments. We saw a doctor at RNY and K was put on a script for methadone. The doctor was very good. It wasn’t that K was just another client – she took a deep interest in him, how he was, who he was knocking round with. K’s recent drug tests have been negative for heroin. K has changed his number and avoided old dealers. While you’re not buying subitex, dealers and users will try and get you back on it so these relationships need to be avoided. He has been meeting with me regularly, particularly when he gets his Universal Credit. Every appointment we’ve made he has kept and he’s up to date with his bills. Working with K now is like working with a totally different person. He’s starting to see a future for himself. With the grace of God, if K can keep away from the bad influences in his life, keep doing what he’s doing with our support and RNY, there is a future for him. There is hope. It has been a long journey for K. It’s his journey but we are walking alongside him.

Image: Merylen Pearce and Paul McKenzie photographed by Nelson Douglas

Image: Wolverhampton Mental Health Travel and Social Group



#Amo's Story Amo


When I went to Good Shepherd I only had the clothes I had on. It was nearly Christmas, my shoes were broken, I was drinking heavily. I was very lucky they had a space and they took me in. I remember on Christmas Day coming back from my mom’s and the Brothers had left me Christmas presents on my bed. There was a brand new jumper, trousers and a pair of shoes. No-one had ever given me anything like that before so it meant everything. I still remind Brother Stephen and Brother Charles about that now. If it weren’t for the Brothers I would have been on the streets and I was very naïve then. I had mental health issues and was drinking a lot. I think I would be dead if the Brothers hadn’t helped me the way they did. They fed me and cared for me. The Brothers helped me budget my money something that I can do now for myself. I managed to stop drinking because of AA. It works. It’s not just stopping drinking it’s the friendship that matters. I have relapsed a few times in the past but AA

friends encouraged me to come back and told me ‘You’ve done it before, you can do it again’ Their advice really helped. Since AA I haven’t had any overnight hospitalizations at Penn Hospital. I am celebrating three years of sobriety next Tuesday. (August 13th 2019) Since I stopped drinking I can save money. I am a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan. I have a season ticket for all the home matches but last season I only missed a couple of away matches. My favourite player is Conor Coady. If I was still drinking I couldn’t afford to go to the matches and I love going to see the Wolves. I have friends and football in my life now and on Tuesday we are celebrating my three years of not drinking.

Image: Amo, photographed by Stuart Manley



Gurpaal Judge

Lotus Sanctuary and Recovery


Gurpaal Judge: CEO

I always wanted to use my time to do more for the people of Wolverhampton. The problem I had was I didn’t know where to start. I dreamt of turning my nine to five into a job that was all about giving back, but fear and a lack of ideas stopped me. That was until a friend of mine relayed a story to me of a woman in Wolverhampton who was homeless and in hospital undergoing a medical detox. The dilemma this woman faced was simple and heartbreaking. Her only options were a women’s refuge, which would only house her once she was six weeks clean and sober or a male dominated hostel rife with drugs, alcohol and exploitation. This led me to ask the naïve question, “surely there are more services that exist for women in such a situation?” To my surprise, the answer was no. Thus the seed was planted for what has become Lotus Sanctuary CIC, a not for profit supported housing group for vulnerable females in Wolverhampton. Just over a year after that fateful conversation, I’m proud to say that we are doing what we set out to do. We currently have six properties in Wolverhampton with

fifteen residents. Our residents suffer a range of complex issues that range from substance misuse, homelessness, domestic violence and sexual exploitation. We offer a two year stay to residents, in which we aim to empower them with the skills that are vital to lead successful, independent lives. Our houses are small, with no more than three women per house in order to avoid a hostel like environment. This ensures support is individualised which aids the resident in their recovery. Our support is structured around the resident’s core issues and needs. Each resident is assigned a support worker who along with the resident, tailors an empowerment plan. We offer the residents emotional and practical support to aid the healing process and to solve on-going issues. We walk hand in hand with our residents in developing the skills and confidence needed to lead purposeful, contributing and joyous lives. Our holistic

approach towards recovery involves physical, mental, emotional and spiritual activities. Activities that we facilitate for our residents include, yoga, art therapy, regular rambling excursions, cooking and healthy eating classes and CV workshops. All of this is done with the view of rebuilding residents’ confidence and self-esteem. Our hopes and aspirations for our residents is that they recover from the issues that led them to us. None of our residents ended up in the position of reaching out for help by choice, so it’s our duty to do our utmost to assist them on the path of recovery when they do reach out. As a company our goal is to keep expanding to meet the needs of vulnerable women in our community, and I have confidence that we

have the perfect team for the job. Success looks different on a case by case basis, but with the passion and dedication shown by our staff, we can say with sureness that we will do our utmost in supporting women on the journey of recovery. Special thanks to our Lead Support Worker Kim Bethell who developed our support package. Also thanks to the rest of the Lotus team and all the staff at Changing Lives. Contact: T: 01902 246011

Image: photographed by Kim Bethell



#Interview with Vanessa Kate Penman




Vanessa is involved in the peer-led ReBuild groups run across the country by Changing Lives. She's recently been to Manchester with the organisation, on a training course to develop her role as a mentor. Changing Lives helps over 17,000 people change their lives for the better each year. They are a national charity dedicated to supporting people with the most complex needs to make meaningful and lasting improvements to their lives. The charity supports women and girls from the Wolverhampton and Walsall areas, including Willenhall, who have experience of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and/or have contact with the criminal justice system. Changing Lives provides specialist one-to-one support to build skills, confidence, and help people meet their goals. They recognise the amazing resilience in the people they support, whilst understanding that the impact of trauma and abuse requires long-term support. Changing Lives outreach service in Wolverhampton and Walsall provides support to help women who are involved in sex work, ‘survival sex’ or at risk of being sexually exploited. T: 01902 341822

How did you become homeless? I became homeless through domestic violence and being too frightened to return home after his attempt to end my life. How did homelessness impact your recovery? My drug addiction started after I became homeless. Someone introduced me to my big problem solver… heroin!! How difficult is it to move on from being homeless? After eight years in and out of jail and homelessness, I made a choice to change… but who could I trust… everyone who I had ever trusted had hurt me and there was always a price. What did you find most challenging / frustrating? The judgement of every person who passed, their version of what or who you are, not many people would just give a smile or say hello...that can really make someone’s day. Do you think there is a stigma attached to those who have experienced homelessness and addiction issues? Definitely, my drug addiction did not kick in until I had been homeless for 2 years. When I first picked up heroin I was already used to being called ‘smackhead’, ‘druggie’, ‘rat’ and ‘germ-ridden thing’. they say sticks and stones… well that’s wrong for sure… in our own minds it hurts so much because we already have low or no self worth.

How can agencies improve their services and care? Don’t feel sorry for us, sympathy is not good for addicts, empathy… Yes! Most of us just need guiding in the right direction because our confidence has been on a downhill run. Who has played an important role in your recovery and move on? Paul Burns, Leon, Tom and all the staff at The Good Shepherd Ministry, Staff at RNY, my key worker there Jim, all the staff at P3 NAV, Thornhurst – West Park for all the wonderful work they do with their SMART Groups – Changing Lives – all the women there are just angels – but mostly all the wonderful Godsent angels at the Church Shelter. I also want to give a great big thank you to my ‘Little Angel’ (my mother) who stuck by me through thick and thin. God bless you all. Do you feel supported now? Yes, I have a good network of support for whatever life may throw at me. How important has volunteering been in rebuilding your life? Volunteering has made a big difference to my life and recovery. I have more confidence, more self worth and it is great for just healing the soul. Hopefully I am able to help someone else who may be just about to start their journey of GETTING THEIR LIFE BACK.

What would your advice be to people who don’t believe that there is a way out from homelessness and addiction? Advice? None in that respect, there is no way of advising someone who doesn’t even know how to start loving themselves, as everybody is different. So talk and surround yourself with positive things, places and people and slowly they might just want that happy feeling again without substances. What are your hopes for the future? Well I am 18 months clean, still on a detox program, I have my 14 year old daughter on weekends, and I am still building bridges with my older children and members of my family. With the help of Paul Burns, Good Shepherd Ministry, and my key worker at Changing Lives, I’ve been in my own flat for 16 months and have just started my voluntary work with Changing Lives, where I am helping everyday human beings with their recovery or life problems. I travel all over the country going to homeless conventions and more recently to ReBuild Groups. The future is looking bright and I just wish to help others like myself to a better, brighter and happier future. Thank you for this chance to give feedback on a topic that is an ongoing problem which is getting worse with our government cut backs on homelessness support and mental health. #


#One Big Family Charlie Taylor

Image: Wednesday night cooking group, photographed by Stuart Manley


Charlie Taylor: Owner of Duke’s Café, Wolverhampton Three years ago, after befriending a young homeless man, and chatting to two of my closest friends who were volunteering at Silverline and a local food bank, I started thinking about what I could do to help the homeless and vulnerable. Listening to a fellow dog walker talking about his experiences as a supervisor at the Church Shelter helped me make up my mind. I would volunteer at the shelter. I presumed that I would be helping out for a few hours, once a week – No. You stayed overnight from 9pm until 7.30am. I decided to give it a shot and I loved it. We served hot drinks and light refreshments, lent a friendly ear and helped supervise the 15 or so homeless that got nightly shelter from the cold and fear that sleeping on the streets brings. When the shelter closed after four months, I approached the Good Shepherd about volunteering. They were in the process of setting up an evening project to offer people in recovery activities to help fill their spare time whilst trying to secure accommodation and employment.

bag’ – rather like ‘Ready Steady Cook!’ It adds to the excitement (they tell me!) and we have to put our collective heads together to come up with a tasty meal for meat eaters and vegetarians. Everyone is given a task – chopping onions, peeling potatoes, roasting meat, seasoning, laying the table etc. It’s such a pleasure to prepare a meal together and even someone who has absolutely no previous cooking experience (apart from a pot noodle) swells with pride when their contribution has helped create a delicious feast. I can see people’s confidence growing and I love to see them relaxing and enjoying themselves away from their worries and woes. We all get to sit at the table together swapping stories and jokes, learning about different cuisines and preparing food on a budget. Even the odd ‘dodgy’ meal makes us laugh. I have been genuinely surprised by some of the skills and aptitude the group has. We teach each other new skills, and learn how to create a delicious, nutritional meal out of next to nothing.

My background is hospitality so I offered to run a cookery class with my friend Ruth. I’m a massive foodie and food brings everyone together. We could share the preparation and the consuming – it was a ‘win win.’

It is such a pleasure to share time with these kind, respectful, hard working individuals - who have enlightened me and made me laugh in equal measures.

The group consists of between 8-20 guests. When we began we would ‘choose’ the menu but now we are presented with a ‘surprise

We are like one big family, and as in all families, when it comes to doing the washing up – they all think it’s ‘Mum’s job’!!!



#Wolverhampton Society of Artists Outreach Chris Manley



Chris Manley: Joint Programme Secretary WSA The foundation of the Wolverhampton Society of Artists in 1919, in the aftermath of the First World War heralded a remarkable flowering of creativity in the town. The Society’s exhibitions became the main showcase for the students and staff of Wolverhampton School of Art, achieving national and international acclaim, producing five Prix de Rome winners, and becoming recognised as a centre of excellence in visual arts. It was during these early years that a member of the Society, with the wonderful name of Dorette Outlaw began travelling around the schools of Wolverhampton searching for students with a clear artistic talent. She would then convince their parents to send them to the School of Art and Design in Wolverhampton and organise scholarships for the students to

attend classes. This helped students to escape the prospect of working in industrial jobs. Several of these students went on to become successful artists and teachers. Today the Society still has professional artists who operate internationally, as well as several artists who work with people in recovery, the homeless, the disadvantaged and people with learning difficulties. Not in the expectation of finding hidden talents but to show people how art practice can effectively ground and give the space to discover the peace and tranquillity to be found in creative practice. When someone has made something, no matter how humble, they have a real possession, which can give them dignity and hopefully help to raise their head to see a way forward.

Image: taken at Good Shepherd Art Group, run by WSA members, photographed by Stuart Manley



#Recovery Marcus


Marcus: Church Shelter Volunteer ‘Recovery’, even the meaning of the word sounds daunting. But it needn’t be, with the right help the battle can be more easily won. I had absolutely everything in life going for me. I was married with two beautiful kids. I worked long hours all week in my day job and nightclub door work at weekends. A fellow doorman suggested ‘phets’ (speed – amphetamine) and boy did it pick me up. But from there it spiralled, as phets turned to coke, coke then became crack, then I began using heroin to come down and my alcohol intake was rapidly rising. I lost everything. I did not see the inside of a prison until I was forty plus, but since then I’ve spent about nine out of fifteen years behind bars. But I was getting too old for prison and I knew it. Then on my last arrest a CID officer set me a challenge, he said, ‘Marc, you are looking at a big-ish sentence – show us what you really can do.’ Those words stuck in my head. So while in prison, I fully engaged with the drug and alcohol services and furthered my education. I took a degree in English, qualified as a mentor in education support and started to get serious about the poetry.

I arrived in Wolverhampton with 60p, the clothes I stood in, and a dream. I spent the first month in the Church Shelter on Broad Street after being referred to them by Brother Steven from Good Shepherd Ministry, who also looked after me in the way of hot meals, clean clothing, toiletries etc. Then of a night, there was out- reach and the Sikh organisation. My probation officer found me accommodation with a housing association that specializes in re-housing ex offenders with the additional back up of a support worker. Now I am about to start studying for my level four in mentoring, I work as a volunteer for the Church Shelter, and I feel like I am moving forward, even my poetry is receiving attention. So all I can say is, if I can do it then so can you. Just start believing in yourself, the help is out there, if you only look for it, good luck and God bless.



Image: ‘Marcus’ by Chris Manley



#Being Clean Steve

BEING CLEAN Steve: Let’s Engage Coordinator, GSM My first experience of recovery was in prison in the early nineties. I was talking to this guy and he said “Don’t you want anything better? You know, don’t you wanna change your life?” It made me think, and he started talking about this prison officer called Mr Duffy, he said there’s rehab prisons available where we look at your attitude, your behaviour, your drug use, triggers and relapse prevention. I started getting involved and I became a peer mentor. I started mentoring other people who were just coming through the doors, coming from other prisons and we were doing encounter groups and seminars. I was clean, I was alive and my mind began to change, it opened my mind to a lot of things. At the time, I was nearly due for release. It wasn’t until I got out of prison that I thought, I have been clean for so long, I thought I’d go and celebrate by getting a few cans and before long I was on the pipe and I was smoking gear again. I was just in and out of prison again. I went to another rehab and I was introduced to my first meeting, there must have been 50 people in the meeting and I was terrified. I heard this person talking about how they’d changed their life around, they were starting to live and enjoy life without using drugs. I thought I needed something for me just to get out the door, I just couldn’t get my head round that. So I was in and out the fellowship for years, and in that time I got clean again and I met this pastor, Sheila, who started taking me out in the

community. I was clean again, I was going to fellowship, I’d got myself a sponsor, he took me through the programme and in that time I was clean for 4 years but I couldn’t get my head round abstaining from drugs completely; I just wanted to experiment with other prescription drugs. Soon I was in a terrible way, I was in that place again where I started thinking to myself I have just been sabotaging my whole life, through feelings I had about myself, about feeling not good enough, unworthy, incapable. I thought I had nothing to give anyone. I was in Liverpool and I got a text off a friend of mine in Birmingham, he said to me “You need to make a decision Ste, do you wanna stay in Liverpool? You got too much history there with people.” I got the train and I thought what am I doing? So there it was again, it was my head trying to talk me out of it and I’m more aware of that now. I got to New Street station my mate put me up in his house for a couple of days and then he got a hotel for me, he got me into a dry house, and people were picking me up, taking me to meetings until I got a bit stronger in myself. I built up a new network of friends. I went for an interview for a job coordinating evening groups for rough sleepers at the Good Shepherd Ministry, and I got it. At the groups I share my experience with the service users, doing the art classes, people come in and they’re just sitting there and they don’t even want to pick that pencil up, cos I didn’t. I was asked to try

something, and I’d never actually tried it and to my surprise I am actually quite good. Seeing these people, seeing them sitting down and drawing and you’d have times where you can’t even hear a pin drop and you know the magic is happening and that’s what I love, that’s why I do this stuff, they are having a go. People come and go because of where they are and I get that, if I had my way I’d love to get them all up there doing this stuff taking part in these art classes, and the cooking and we have the film club as well on a Friday. I’ve been with the Good Shepherd for over a year now and what I’ve been able to give to these people, my own life experience, they begin to trust you and that is a process as well, they start letting you in bit by bit. So I’m really blessed being able to be there for other people where I’m just listening to them and that is the greatest act of love you can give.

Image: Steve, photographed by Stuart Manley The full transcript of Steve’s interview is available to hear at COLLECTIViSM: ‘Recovery Exhibition’ at Light House, see page 42 for details




An evening of music, art and conversation

Thursday 12th September | 6-9pm Light House Media Centre, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT ‘Recovery’ is a multi-disciplinary art exhibition funded by Creative Black Country. The exhibition challenges addiction related stigma and highlights the stories and experiences of those in recovery from various forms of addiction.

In the upstairs gallery is a solo exhibition by renowned Wolverhampton photographer, Stuart Manley. Stuart Manley has been documenting the Good Shepherd Ministry, since 2011, beginning with the ‘Little Brothers’ exhibition at Light House. Exhibition official opening September 12th 6-9 pm with music by All Hands Sounds.

In building awareness and raising the profile of recovery through art and testimonies, ‘Recovery’ aims to bring lived experience to a wider audience and demonstrates the power of art and community as a tool for recovery.

The opening night will feature an opportunity to meet with the artists involved and discover more about recovery opportunities in Wolverhampton.

Art groups facilitated by Collectivism, Wolverhampton Society of Artists, SUIT and Good Shepherd Ministry exhibit alongside University of Wolverhampton alumni artists and established Wolverhampton artists.

At the event there will be a silent auction of original artwork and prints donated by local Wolverhampton artists. The silent auction will be raising money for Good Shepherd Ministry.


FAVOR UK, an addiction charity promoting recovery [] Image: ‘The Wagon’ by Matt Lloyd



UPCOMiNG EVENTS UNIVERSITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON MA SHOW Friday 20 th – Thursday 26th September: Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield St, Wolverhampton WV1 1DU Wednesday 2nd October – Sunday 3rd November: The New Art Gallery Walsall, Gallery Sq, Walsall WS2 8LG RESTORE OUR DAYS – ART EXHIBITION Saturday 21st September | 6 - 9pm: St. Jude's Parish Church, St. Jude’s Vicarage, St. Jude’s Rd, Wolverhampton WV6 0EB SHOWCASE WOLVES Sunday 22nd September | 11:30am - 4:30pm: Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Lichfield St, Wolverhampton WV1 1DU. Wolverhampton Art Gallery is hosting a celebration of local community groups and societies with a fun, free event during Heritage Open Days weekend MUSIC MEMORABILIA, ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION, 'WHERE WERE YOU?' Friday 4th – Saturday 26th October | Admission £8.50 Concessions £4.50 #SaveLightHouse campaign: Light House, Fryer St, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT ALL HANDS SOUNDS – FUNDRAISER FOR WOLVERHAMPTON SAMARITANS Saturday 5th October | 8pm till late tickets £5: Light House, Fryer St, Wolverhampton WV1 1HT FUN PALACE Sunday 6th October | 12.00am – 5.00pm: Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley St, WV1 4AN A free fun celebration of Arts, Science and Culture for all ages A SENSE OF PLACE – ART EXHIBITION Saturday 12th October | 11am: Boundary Way Allotments, Boundary Way, Wolverhampton WV4 4NT WOLVERHAMPTON SOCIETY OF ARTISTS OPEN STUDIOS Saturday 12th – Sunday 13th October: Visit for a list of venues LIFE IS NO LAUGHING MATTER Thursday 24th October | 7.00pm – 9.30pm: Arena Theatre, Wulfruna St, Wolverhampton WV1 1SE MOLINEUX SLEEPOUT Friday 15th November | 7:00pm – 7:00am: Molineux Stadium, Waterloo Rd, Wolverhampton WV1 4QR Molineux opens its doors to welcome supporters to sleep pitch side to raise awareness and vital funds for rough sleepers and people who are vulnerably housed MAKESHIFT Saturday 16th November | 10:00am – 13:00pm: The Workspace, All Saints Rd, Wolverhampton WV2 2AS

Profile for Kate Penman

Collectivism #12 Recovery Month Edition  

Collectivism is an arts, community and social action magazine that puts a spotlight on the good works going on behind the scenes in Wolverha...

Collectivism #12 Recovery Month Edition  

Collectivism is an arts, community and social action magazine that puts a spotlight on the good works going on behind the scenes in Wolverha...