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Some would argue that an untidy desk suggests an untidy mind. I, however, like to think of it in a different way. For me, the paper fort that currently surrounds me is more a representation of a successfully busy year.

Further I would suggest that my desk represents the incredible success of the UK recovery movement…OK, that might be a step too far in regards to my desk (although an argument I may use for our Health & Safety officer later) but certainly not in regards to the recovery movement. It has taken off!

On my last day in the office for 2011, I thought I might briefly reflect on and share a few of the highlights of my year.

The Small Sparks Scheme got underway in Bognor Regis and Crawley in the spring of this year. The Scheme is one of the pilots of the Whole Person Recovery project and has given out small grants collectively worth over £7,000 to help spark the next step in people’s recovery journey.  Brian Morgan (SU Co-ordinator at West Sussex DAAT) and Carol Lucey (Worthing Churches Homeless Project) have done a superb job in running the Scheme which has now expanded across the whole county. It is having such an impact on people’s lives and the way they think about their own recovery.

Over the summer, as part of the Recovery Capital project, we interviewed 140 former and current problem drug and alcohol users in Peterborough to understand their networks, access and availability of recovery capital and the gaps in provision across the city. We got a little ambitious with our methodology and combined social network analysis with recovery capital assessments to see what would happen and what we would find. We've had some interesting results... Watch out for them in early 2012!

There have been some great conferences this year – too many to mention them all – which brought inspiration to our little island from far away shores. In March, Bruce Alexander gave a lecture at the RSA and called for a stronger recognition of the social nature of our worsening global addiction problem. UK audiences had the opportunity to meet and hear from those driving recovery in the US with Keith Humphries at the UKRF Summit and from George De Leon at the Recovery Academy Conference, both in September. Both were great events.

But for me, the ultimate highlight this year was the UK Recovery Walk 2011. I still struggle to put into words the impact that the event had on me. It was such an inspiring day and an incredible opportunity to see, hear and feel recovery at its best. I can’t wait until next year and would encourage everyone – whether you’re in recovery or not – to attend so you can experience it for yourself.

I can’t wait to see what else next year brings. See you all in 2012!


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