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GettinG it in
12 |
| March 2014
Make It Happen! |
Service user conference 2014
y perspective is based on 49 years living on this earth, 22 of them in
recovery,’ said
Alistair Sinclair
of the UK Recovery Federation (UKRF) as
he introduced the afternoon’s
session. ‘I’ve also worked in
social care, on and off, for 26 years, and I’m still in recovery from that,’ he said.
Recovery was an ongoing process of change and self-definition that challenged all
discrimination, he told the conference. ‘There aremany pathways to recovery – no one
has the right to claimownership.’ It had also sometimes come to be seen as an excuse
to dismantle services, he added, ‘but that’s about how it’s co-opted and presented’.
‘Recovery is a move from deficits to assets, focusing on strengths rather than
weaknesses,’ he told delegates. ‘If you listen to our politicians, all you hear about are
weaknesses and gaps. But people are coming together to organise, mobilise and
make a difference – they’re telling a different story. If you look at the things that get
done, they’re not done by services. They’re done by families, neighbourhoods,
communities, and they always have been.’
UKRF’s values included shared learning and support, self-determination,
personal and community strengths and reciprocity, he said. ‘We, as human beings,
have a basic human need to give and receive. That’s how we work. As John Ruskin
said, “when love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece”.’
The next perspective came from
Nigel Brunsdon
of Injecting Advice and HIT,
discussing naloxone. ‘It’s an opiate antagonist – it reduces the effects of a heroin
overdose and that’s all it does,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t do anything else – it’s not addictive,
it’s not poisonous, and it’s not a replacement for other overdose interventions.’
It was also not a ‘universal cure’ for overdose, as someone else needed to be
present to administer it, he pointed out. ‘But 50 per cent of people who overdose do
have someone else with them. That means that 50 per cent of the people who’ve
died from an overdose in this country needn’t have.’
Naloxone, was ‘prescription-only, unfortunately’, he told the session. ‘It can only be
supplied to the person at risk of overdose, or families and loved ones if there’s a letter
of consent from the person whose prescription it is. I’d love for this to be changed.’
Scotland had a national programme of naloxone distribution in place, he said,
and 365 overdoses had been reversed since its implementation. While Wales and
Ireland had also introduced national programmes, in England it had been ‘left up to
localism’, he said. ‘You should all be persuading your commissioners that we need
naloxone. Even from a purely economic standpoint it makes sense. You need to get
angry. Thousands of people need this drug.’
Delegates then heard from
from Lancashire User Forum (LUF),
which was now a registered charity with commissioning responsibility. ‘We grew it,
based on a few principles – focusing on what’s good and positive,’ Pete told
delegates. ‘We’re a grass-roots organisation and service-user led to the bone.’ Public
Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie had visited the organisation’s last
forum because ‘he saw something different here. He called it “commissioning ahead
of its time”.’
‘We had a DAAT that really believed in what we were doing on the ground,’
added Kerry. ‘They put their money where their mouth is and we now have a
£200,000 budget that’s been pulled out of services, pan-Lancashire. A consultant
psychiatrist’s salary for six months would be about £50,000 but we’ve spent that on
social enterprises – photography, art, catering – and six jobs that range from three
to 12 months in things like construction, admin and catering. We’ve funded a
netball team, a football team, a choir, a boat, £10,000’s worth of training, several
environmental projects, recovery hubs. It’s about building people’s recovery capital
– opportunities with real depth and weight.’
The ‘LUFStock’ art, music and sports festival had also grown in size from 70 to
270 people in the space of a year, Emma told delegates. ‘What we have here is unity
– we’re one group of people with one goal. We’re a family, a community. No matter
Delegates at the afternoon’s opening session heard a range
of personal viewpoints from six very different speakers