Let’s brief you on one of the best kept secrets in Scotland. There is a new world being created that is gathering momentum and getting bolder and cheekier. You won’t have read about it in the mainstream press, seen it on the TV or heard from us at a work conference that you had to pay to go to.
Scotland has a thriving and exponentially growing recovery from addiction movement. Its been growing undercover for the last 2 or 3 years, gathering in greater numbers and breaking out in areas once only thought of as ravaged by poverty and addiction.
Places like Parkhead where over 300 people gathered on one Wednesday this April to launch a new weekly community recovery café. Places like Aberdeen where local recovery activists have set up a recovery hub. Like Hamilton where the Blameless Recovery led charity with 1000 members organises events for hundreds of families affected by addiction on holidays and weekends. Edinburgh already has the first 7-days-of-the-week recovery social enterprise café in “Serenity Café” just off the Royal Mile. In Greenock, best known for shipyard closures and drug deaths, here too recovery grows; Inverclyde Recovery Café is now open 2 days a week and has a monthly Saturday brunch.
I recently counted more than 20 recovery cafés placed all over Scotland. There are even 2 in prisons (HMP Greenock and Perth) and more open up all the time. Paisley is just about to get its first “Sunshine” café and South Ayrshire its second as the long running Café Hope develops in other areas. There are many Recovery Arts, theatre and music groups with names like Sweet For Addicts, Sound Inner space, ARIA, The Lonely Hearts Club Band. There are recovery cycling groups, men’s groups, many more women’s groups, exercise groups and even an Urban Recovery Ninjas group.
New forms of recovery mutual aid are growing and happily co-existing along side the well established, respected and much-loved 12 step and SMART recovery mutual aid fellowships. There is an All Recovery Share meeting at which anyone with any addiction shares their experience of recovery and a Sit and Share recovery meeting; where people use their meditation and ethical practice as a basis for building their recovery. New tools like ‘world style’ conversation café, once seen as strange and marginal, are now familiar as a great way for official systems of treatment to engage with more informal networks of recovery assets in the community.
In 2012 there were only 11 of these visible, independent recovery support groups in Scotland; in June 2014 we counted 72; led by people in recovery and friends of recovery for people in recovery and the communities they inhabit. In 2012, the chances of them knowing each other were slight. Now the 72 are building into a conscious national network as they lead the planning for this year’s Recovery Walk Scotland. Last year over 800 individuals took the Forth Road Bridge in the first ever Recovery Walk Scotland. This year we take to the capital’s streets – we have no idea how many people there will be.
It is just as Arundhati Roy, the author of the God of Small things, said:
“Another world is not only possible she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
In Scotland she is more than breathing, she is singing for joy! Join the movement…
Kuladharini July 2014
[Next time I‘ll let you into the secret of how it might have happened and where and when the next recovery walk is in Edinburgh]
Kuladharini is the Chief Executive of the Scottish Recovery Consortium