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In a report published today the think and do tank the RSA argues that expanding peer support to promote individual wellbeing could be the answer to impending cuts in the public health grant of 6.2 percent announced in the Chancellor’s Summer Budget (July 2015).

The RSA is making its recommendation following a four year drug and alcohol programme run within a Payment by Results model in partnership with the national treatment provider CRI in West Kent. The findings are now being used across England.

Recognising the value of the whole person model, Public Health England (PHE) has adopted the approach advocated by the RSA. In September 2015 PHE published a new guide showing the benefits of “involving recovering alcohol and drug users in the design and development of their own, and others treatment and recovery”.

With local health services having to make choices the RSA suggests this is an opportunity to change tack on helping people recover from addiction.

Susie Pascoe, Whole Person Recovery programme lead at the RSA said:

Services are being asked to do more for less, so there needs to be a focus on doing things differently, harnessing the capacity within the system (of treatment and recovery) so co-production is key.

This isn’t just an austerity response, it’s an opportunity for services to start exploring what coproduction really means. It’s no longer the case that asking for and responding to feedback is enough. We need to start working with people in partnership to design and deliver wellbeing services in the right way for them.

Peer support is also particularly important over the Christmas period when treatment services for recovery from drugs or alcohol abuse are likely to reduce their hours over the Christmas period, particularly during evenings and weekends when people in recovery can often face their biggest challenges.

The report, ‘Whole Community Recovery; the value of person, place and community’, makes the following recommendations:

  1. The Department of Health should engage with Public Health England, NHS England and the professionals that deliver health and wellbeing services and the recovery community to develop a shared and consistent understanding of recovery.
  2. To improve outcomes at a local level Public Health England drive the development of a Creative Commissioning for Recovery approach that would meet commissioners' aspiration for more creative and flexible procurement.
  3. Recovery service providers need to further build capacity to support community focussed skills and activities within services.

The RSA programme of work was based around three core principles:

  • Co-production is key for service users to own, and feel a valued part of, their personal recovery process; 
  • Holistic, whole person approaches enable services to encompass multiple dimensions of a person’s recovery, increasing the likelihood of success in the short and longer term; and
  • Social connectedness – within the recovery community and wider local community – creates a network of support and opportunities for individuals, enhancing the sustainability of recovery.

Mark Moody, Executive Director - Health and Social Care, CRI, said:

The development of new ways of working is always exciting but it’s also necessary, particularly within the current financial climate. Our work with RSA in Kent gives us some excellent pointers towards how we can do more with less. By helping people help themselves, and others, we can move from having good treatment services to excellent recovery ones.


Notes to editors

  1. The research built on the publication of the RSA’s seminal report Drugs: Facing Facts (2007)
  2. Further information on the RSA’s Health and Wellbeing programme can be found here: including the RSA health and wellbeing e-book here:
  3. For statistical information see:

  1. The PHE Service User Involvement Guide can be found here:
  2. For more information contact RSA Interim Head of Media Sarah Horner via or on 020 7451 6893 / 07799 737 970
  3. Twitter: @theRSAorg #RSAwellbeing
  4. To read more and download the report: Whole Person Recovery Programme


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