Kuladharini, CEO of the Scottish Recovery Consortium, guest blogs for Recovery Review
As the confetti canon explodes at 10am sharp on Saturday 27th September, Recovery Walk Scotland 2014 will make a jubilant, tuneful progress down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, past the Scottish Parliament and into Holyrood Park. Last year over 800 people took the Forth Road Bridge by gentle recovery storm at the first Recovery Walk Scotland.
This year we can confidently predict there will be more than 1000 happy shining people celebrating; out and proud and in recovery from addictions.
The Scottish Recovery Consortium
At the helm of the walk is the Scottish Recovery Consortium, formerly the Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium, pulling together people in recovery, their friends, families and supporters into a national recovery movement that lives its own message.
So how did a troubled charity like the Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium go from existing primarily to promote a government drug strategy to being the Scottish Recovery Consortium – a social change agent with a central role in the new recovery movement?
There is no definitive answer to that and there is no doubt that the Consortium has benefited greatly from the same renewed interest in recovery from addiction that birthed both the new policy and an upswing in community activity.
The SRC and Recovery
Nonetheless, the organisation did more than not get in the way; it actually embraced its own recovery journey. Launched in 2010, by 2011 the SDRC was beset with both crises of leadership and relevance. The charity’s board of trustees opened up its feedback channels, got independent facilitators in and asked its critics, stakeholders and friends what they really thought. They told them.
By early 2012, SDRC had new leadership, drawing fast lessons and its new director (that was me) from a blend of the newly emerging grassroots recovery movement, recovery research and Scotland’s long tradition of mutual aid.
“We dropped the drugs”
The SDRC abandoned its name and adopted the working title, ’Scottish Recovery Consortium.’ “We dropped the Drugs” said the news release, “like many of our members”. The emphasis was to be squarely on the commonality and benefits of the recovery process not the substance of former misuse and its problems. The SRC works alongside grassroots and strategic activists to co-create a new entity; a recovery orientated charity. Basically the whole organisation has to walk its recovery talk and live out its beliefs about recovery from addiction personally.
Recognising that the public passion for recovery approaches urgently needed to be channeled and supported, brand new forms were created, sometimes as in the case of the recovery colleges on the back of a fag packet.
In quick succession, recovery orientated workforce development, recovery activism, national shared learning events and recovery summits appeared in that first year of public recovery’s velvet revolution in Scotland. The SRC co-opted existing tools like ‘world style’ conversation café and eco- activism practices that support whole person involvement.
Refusing to be drawn into any debates, arguments or disputes around the problems of drugs, the SRC was free to do only what directly and immediately serves recovery. Some surprising things did not make the cut; conventional media engagement, membership of some national standing committees on drugs, service user involvement.
Midwife to a movement
What we do have is Team Consortium, a task force for the good of the whole, recovery colleges that build community activists with a passion for giving back and the recovery initiative fund that puts funds directly into the hands of those with ideas.
The SRC having thus proven itself as a helpful friend finds itself now the midwife to a movement.
Might you walk a recovery mile with us all on the 27th of September?
[You can register for the walk here. Feel free to Tweet, post on FaceBook and link to this article so that we can have multitudes of recovering people and those supporting recovery walking down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Park and making a positive statement about recovery in Scotland.]