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It has been a few weeks since I last wrote for which I apologise especially to the faithful few who read my blog regularly (hi mum).

As I mentioned back in June, the RSA is once again tackling the issue of drug and alcohol misuse and the public service/s that seek to address these ongoing challenges. Building on the consummate work of the RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy, the new project seeks to explore the suitability of a user centred approach to reviewing and designing a service that meets the needs of those individuals using it.

“The User Centred Drug Services Project can form the foundation of action research into personalised services for drug users. Transformation of service users could be dramatic as they move from being passive to active, powerless to powerful, consumers to producers. Co-production is not just about service users being in control of choosing and purchasing services, but about producing their own solutions and generating social capital. Truly user centred services – and this project – have the potential to create holistic approaches which will address the socio-structural causes of problem drug use and tackle the multiple disadvantage experienced by drug users."

This is an exciting new project that I am so pleased to be involved in and which at its heart is about understanding and building people’s capacities. This mirrors much of what the Prison Learning Network found. Finding out about what is working across the system, where the innovation began, continued and was sustained and where the possibilities for replicability lie. Providing the tools and opportunities for individuals and communities is crucial; building capacity to be able to deal with the variety of pressures in people’s lives is central and as a public service, the CJS should be more considerate of their role as enablers.

On Monday (19th October) this blog will be renamed ‘Public Services’ so that we can widen the conversation to include the User Centred Drug Services Project as well as the Prison Learning Network and any others that might arise in the future. I hope that you will continue to find it an interesting and useful engagement in the discussions around the issues and I look forward to your engagement in the conversation.


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