Our History & Timeline

Discover more about how we started out and our development over the years

Our History

The idea for Double Impact was born in 1996, the brainchild of our founder member, Tony Herbert, himself in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Tony recognised that there was a desperate need for a service which would pick someone up in the early stages of their recovery and support them in two areas which are now recognised as cornerstones of a sustainable recovery – namely, education and suitable housing. He believed that, if these two areas were properly addressed, then the impact on an individual’s chances of recovery would be significant (hence the ‘Double Impact’ of our name).

Tony brought together two partners, The Nottingham YMCA and People’s College (a local FE college), to seek funding for the project. Funding was secured and in 1998, Double Impact opened its doors for the first time, with Graham Miller, Double Impact’s first member of staff, at the helm.

From humble beginnings in a room within the Nottingham YMCA, the organisation has grown to employ over 50 members of staff, and supports around 1000 people each year. Graham is still at the helm but is now the CEO. Despite this growth, the original ethos of listening to and responding to the ideas of people with lived experience of addiction, is still at the heart of the charity.

As the charity and the sector has evolved, our ‘double’ impact today is through a focus on education/ employment and supportive networks, although the name continues to resonate in a number of ways, to different people.

Tony Herbert

Have a look at our timeline to see the history and development of Double Impact in more detail.

April 2024

New Lincolnshire Recovery Partnership and Scunthorpe Recovery Service start

Dec 2023

Double Impact launch bid to make Nottingham an Inclusive Recovery City

November 2023

5th Anniversary Spirit of Recovery Awards

October 2023

Nottingham Recovery Network launches new service

May 2023

We kick off a year of events to mark our 25th Anniversary as a charity

Sep 2022

Boston Recovery Pathways is funded for a further three years through a National Lottery Community Fund grant

April 2022

Our first gambling project, Time Out is launched, raising the profile of gambling harms in Nottingham city

Feb 2022

Peer Mentoring in Mental Health NHS services commences

June 2021

Recovery Links Nottinghamshire, a new online service for Notts commences

June 2021

We are Finalists in the Centre for Social Justice Awards for our work to combat poverty and social exclusion

Feb 2021

DI launch first month-long virtual fundraising campaign, #FIT4FEB

May 2020

TTK & DI win an award for their partnership work on the voluntary placement scheme

April 2020

Launch of our Digital Recovery Network in response to COVID-19

Receive funding from TNLCF and Natwest Social & Community Capital to support our projects during COVID-19

March 2020

Café Sobar receives a 3-yr grant from TNLCF to continue to create social impact

Jan 2019

Café Sobar celebrates its 5th Birthday

Boston Recovery Pathways project starts, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund (TNLCF)

Nov 2018

Achieve ‘Direct Claims’ status through Certa in recognition of the high quality of our Academy delivery

Sep 2018

CEO completes 20 half marathon challenge to raise funds and awareness

May 2018

Double Impact celebrates its 20th Anniversary

April 2018

Henry Smith Charity awards us a three-year grant for core funding

March 2018

Café Sobar achieves record sales

February 2018

Local business The Treat Kitchen announces us as their Charity of the Year 2018

November 2017

Big Potential award us a grant to scope out social investment options for our Academy model

October 2017

Receive award from Heritage Lottery Fund to run a pilot Access to Heritage project

Building Better Opportunities service in Lincoln commences

September 2017

CEO Graham Miller commences his '20 half-marathons in a year' fundraising appeal

August 2017

NRN service relocates into the new Nottingham Wellbeing Hub alongside partner services

July 2017

Our services in Lincolnshire expand with additional funding for a Mobile Training Team


Café Sobar was awarded the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence for the second year running

October 2016

The Academy Lincolnshire opens, Double Impact's first service outside of Nottinghamshire, in partnership with Addaction

TEXT' group marks 5th year of delivery, working with people to reduce opiate substitute medication

Building Better Opportunities project commences, helping people with multiple barriers towards and into work, in partnership with Framework and Groundworks

CEO completes 2 half-marathons in 2 weeks, to raise money for the charity

September 2016

Double Impact launch new 'recovery app', helping people locate support services and providing daily motivational support

Our Digital Inclusion suite opens at Friar Lane in Nottingham to support our service users to gain digital skills, funded by Public Health England

New website for Double Impact and Café Sobar goes live

July 2016

New 'Nottingham Recovery Network' commences delivery in Nottingham, in partnership with Framework and Notts NHS Trust

May 2016

Double Impact wins a Nottingham Post Business Award for the Best Non-Profit of 2016 and celebrates its 18th birthday

April 2016

Café Sobar is highly commended in the inaugural National Zero Alcohol Awards

March 2016

Our new Nottinghamshire academy building in Mansfield opens its doors, providing a new recovery hub for people in the north of the country

February 2016

Recovery Recruitment Notts project, a specialist employment and education programme for north Nottinghamshire commences, funded by the Big Lottery Fund

January 2016

Double Impact achieves 'Certa' Recognised Centre Status, enhancing our educational offer to service users

November 2015

Double Impact's first Mentoring Awards takes place in Café Sobar

October 2015

Double Impact purchases and begins to refurbish a building in Mansfield with a Public Health England grant, to house the Nottinghamshire Academy

September 2015

Café Sobar supports local recovery community through hosting 8 weekly mutual aid recovery groups

Staff embark on training in new 'Act Peer Recovery' skillset

August 2015

Recovery Recruitment supports 30 service users into paid employment and trains 21 local employers in drug and alcohol awareness

July 2015

Clean Slate Academy in Nottingham commences, in partnership with Framework, working with offenders in the community

April 2015

Sobar Social' events aimed at the recovery community start, featuring live music and comedy

January 2015

Double Impact's first Spirit of Recovery Awards takes place in Café Sobar

October 2014

Double Impact's first Academy opens, delivering peer mentoring and service user involvement across Nottinghamshire, in partnership with CGL

August 2014

Recovery Mondays', a social event aimed at the recovery community, starts at Café Sobar

April 2014

Recovery Recruitment, a specialist employment project, opens its doors to service users in Nottingham, funded by the Big Lottery Fund

March 2014

Turnover peaks at £1.7m

January 2014

Head office relocates to 22-24 Friar Lane

Opening of Café Sobar, an alcohol-free cafe and social venue, set up to provide a safe space and work experience for people in recovery and funded by the Big Lottery Fund

December 2013

Synergy CIC Ltd is formed, a community interest company with the aim of generating income for the charity through recovery focused initiatives

August 2013

Independent 'Social Return On Investment' report is published, revealing that our services deliver £4-£7 of social benefit for every £1 invested

July 2013

Homelessness Prevention Service commences in Nottingham, supporting tenants with drug and alcohol issues to remain in their homes

June 2013

Double Impact's 2nd Recovery Ball is hosted at Nottingham Uni, featuring Mitch Winehouse and his band


Recovery in Nottingham Partnership commences service delivery in Nottingham city, in partnership with Notts NHS Trust, Framework and BAC-IN

Over 4000 service users accessed the service over 15 years

October 2012

Double Impact flag is pitched at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro by our fundraising coordinator

July 2012

Double Impact holds first ever U.K. Recovery Ball in Nottingham Council House

January 2012

Turnover exceeds £1m for first time

Double Impact commences first schools programme, delivering alcohol awareness education and workshops to teenagers in local schools

May 2010

Business Development Team established to focus on organisational sustainability

April 2010

Step Ahead' alcohol service commences delivery in Nottingham of an intense 12 step-based day programme


Double Impact hosts second national aftercare conference 'Life Beyond Drug & Alcohol Treatment' supported by local commissioners and partners

GATE (Guided Access Towards Empowerment) Mentoring Service starts, training and employing service users as volunteer mentors to support others in the system

Double Impact delivers year-long 'Access to Arts' programme culminating in a regional arts conference about using the arts in drug treatment

Tenancy Support Service (3 Ways and Solutions) commence in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

Nottinghamshire county develops new services including 'Time Out' for stimulant users, a structured education programme (D.I.C.E) and personal development / recreational programme (S.E.L.F)

2007/ 2008

Double Impact runs National Consultation Road Show visiting 6 major UK cities to inform best practice and policy in Aftercare

Double Impact presents findings at National Injecting Drug Users Conference

3 May 2006

Double Impact hosts first national Aftercare and Recovery Conference, 'What Next? - the evidence for Aftercare' - attended by 170 people, supported by the NTA, Notts County DAT and the Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership


Double Impact is commissioned to deliver services in the Nottinghamshire conurbations Organisation is incorporated to become a Not-for-Profit Company Limited by Guarantee with a Board of Directors


Nottinghamshire team expands to include a Basic Skills Tutor and expands delivery of accredited courses and training

Double Impact is a key partner in another employment initiatives for recovering people, the award-winning Project Recruit in Nottinghamshire

Double Impact delivers accredited courses in partnership with Enable

Arts council funds first of several arts programmes and Double Impact holds the first of many public art exhibitions

In reach prison services signpost inmates of HMP Nottingham and HMP Ranby to local drug services and education programmes


Funding secured for a new Nottinghamshire service employing 2 staff, based at Venture Centre in Worksop and later in Mansfield CVS

5 bed abstinent accomodation for Double Impact service users established in YMCA and managed by Double Impact - known as 'the Dry floor'

Nottingham service users enjoy free YMCA gym access for the first time and form a football team

A Service User Representative is appointed to the Board for the first time

End 2003

Graham submits proposal to Notts County D.A.T to start a countrywide service working with service users at an earlier stage of treatment


D.A.T / E.S.F funding pays for two additional staff, bringing the staff team to 5

Key partner in 'Gear Change', training recovering service users to work in the field of drug treatment

S.A.M.P.L.E.R' (Support, Access, Mentoring, Progression, Learning, Education, Recovery) programme is developed and launched as part of a semi-structured group programme


Start delivery of complementary therapies for service users, later to develop into 'Healthy Highs' programme including training for holistic therapists

April 2001

Nottingham City Drug Action match funding with further ESF funding and a further two staff being employed

S.T.A.G.E.' (support, training, access, guidance and employment) group programme is designed and launched

First expansion of space within YMCA from 1 to 3 rooms

Steering group becomes a management group of a community partnership

Double Impact User Involvement Forum (the Focus Group), is established

Early 2001

Conference in Madrid to celebrate joint European project with other 4 partners

End 1999

Group programme commences in partnership with Peolpe's College including an I.T and a peer support group

May - Dec 1998

Service works with 50 service users in first 7 months

11 May 1998

Graham Miller is employed as sole employee and service opens, delivered from 1 room in the Nottingham YMCA


Peolpe's College secure start up funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to develop a new initiative to support recovering drug and alcohol users

1996 / 1997

Interested local partners are brought together - Nottingham Health Authority, The Nottinghamshire YMCA, Peolpe's College (now South Notts / Central College), Macedon (now Framework), the Nottingham Drug Action Team and Ira Unell Consulting


The concept for a recovery based aftercare programme is born through the vision of Tony Herbert (founder)