Many people working in the drug and alcohol treatment sector are familiar with the work of Professor David Best (and others) around the importance of ‘Recovery Capital’ - or in other words, the resources which individuals have access to, to support their recovery, and the different kinds of this, whether individual, social or community capital – and the increasing understanding of the fact that sustained recovery doesn’t happen in a vaccuum, or even within services, but takes place in the community; and also the work of Dr Ed Day, the National Recovery Champion, who has spoken and written a lot about the various attributes of a Recovery Oriented System of Care, which, as well as support from services and professionals, places great emphasis on leveraging Lived Experience and community assets to get the best results.
So, the concept of an Inclusive Recovery City builds upon these: in a nutshell, an Inclusive Recovery City is like a ‘super-charged’ Recovery Oriented System of Care, with an emphasis on the role of the wider community in supporting recovery.
Professor David Best (Leeds Trinity Uni) and Dr Charlotte Colman (Sheffield Hallam University) first published a paper on the concept in 2018.
Central idea: few can and no-one should have to walk the recovery path alone. It’s an approach which emphasises the positive value that people in recovery have to wider society – and, crucially, to remove the shame and stigma around addiction.
Challenge stigma around recovery and the associated social exclusion – at city level
Make recovery visible, celebrate it and create a safe environment supportive to recovery again at a city level
Through doing this, generate as many opportunities and pathways for longer term recovery to flourish as possible
What is already happening?
The National Roundtable Group's membership includes Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, York, Derby, Middlesbrough and Blackpool amongst others. Membership of the group consists of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations (LEROs),service providers and city council representation and anyone who is interested/ invested in the concept for their area.
An early adopter of the initiative is Middlesborough, which has worked closely with David Best and the main LERO in Middlesbrough, Recovery Connections, on the process, resulting in them publicly declaring themselves an IRC in May 2023. Other cities such as Leeds and Derby have already started the process of becoming one. I can share a link to recent Channel 4 news item about the process they are going through, for anyone who is interested.
This model now has international traction, with European cities of Dublin, Gothenburg, Ghent as partners with cities in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand interested in joining the movement.
The most recent meeting was hosted at Café Sobar in December, at which attendees heard about latest developments from Professor David Best, and shared their progress in gaining buy-in to the concept and associated activities, as well as hearing from international members. It's an exciting time for the group and it was inspiring to hear what other LEROs up and down the country are achieving in changing perceptions and making recovery visible in a positive way.