The Whole Person Recovery Project is committed to improving recovery outcomes in West Kent for people in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse. Social anxiety issues can be a major barrier to building strong support networks for recovery, which was why our recovery centre in Tonbridge was a perfect place for Martin Webber FRSA and his team to try out his new game ClearFear.
Martin explains the project much better than I could in his recent RSA blog but the experience of myself and a wide range of volunteers and service users regarding this project, a social game to combat anxiety, is one worth sharing.
When the day began we were a group of nervous individuals. The set up was reminiscent of many of the standard group sessions that take place in the centre every day but what we were about to experience was quite different. There was little time to think as we split up into groups, talked to each other about our lives and interests and constructed cartoon superheroes with names and special powers. These would be our alter egos for the day. After reporting back we created secret missions for ourselves and others which we took out onto the streets of Tonbridge. Our missions included finding interesting facts about the town, asking people to draw their favourite superheroes and a particularly gregarious member of the group tried to get as many hugs as she could. I can’t remember the exact total but, impressively, she got to double figures.
The idea of the day was that we all combated our social fears together. If someone was uncomfortable with a mission, the rest of the group helped them or they could swap to something else. It’s hard to explain how, but it worked exceptionally well in bringing the group together and even the quietest members came back to the hub and were eager to get up in front of everybody to tell their stories and share their pictures. One guy who has had a particularly difficult year reflected that “It made me feel like a kid again”. The most striking thing for my colleague, who was working on a different floor at the time we returned from our missions, was the sound of laughter that echoed through the building. He had observed the group at the beginning of the day, quiet and slightly agitated, and the difference he witnessed was, in his words, “transformative and heartening”.
What we experienced in Tonbridge was a pilot project, but to really get the game moving - building a website, creating mission cards and developing a full version of the game - it needs funding. Martin, with support from the Fellowship team, has created a Kickstarter campaign where hopefully he will secure the necessary funding to take the game to the next level. If you would like to know more about this campaign and others, please visit the RSA curated area on Kickstarter and remember, if you’re a Fellow, the RSA will match your contribution up to £10.
Jack Robson, Whole Person Recovery Programme Coordinator.