DDN April 2019 DDN April 2019 - Page 6

RecoveRy The inclusive cities model is a forward thinking-approach to boosting people’s recovery in the communities where they live, say Professor David Best, Professor Charlotte Colman and Stuart Green Include me in H ow does recovery happen? Research shows that people overcome addictions and recover through a combination of three factors. The first is personal factors such as maturation and personal motivation, the second is social factors like support from family and friends, and the third is community factors such as effective reintegration. This shows that recovery is not just an issue of personal motivation, but is also about acceptance – by family, friends and a range of organisations and professionals across the community. In the beginning, research and practice mainly focused on understanding personal and social factors in recovery. But today we know that what is equally, or even more, important is one’s relationship with the community – recovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Therefore to support pathways to recovery, structural and contextual efforts are needed to supplement individually oriented interventions and programmes. (Re)building one’s relationship with the community is, however, a difficult journey. While the community could be central to recovery by building and strengthening bridges between members, it could also act as a barrier. People who struggle with addiction – even those in recovery – experience exclusion, stigma and discrimination, such as employers not offering them a job, landlords who discriminate against them, or neighbours who ignore them. Such a community has negative consequences for sustaining the recovery of its citizens. It’s against this backdrop of exclusion, stigma and discrimination at a community level that the drive for ‘inclusive cities’ arises. An inclusive city promotes participation, inclusion, and full and equal citizenship to all its citizens, including those in recovery. The first purpose is to build and promote inclusive cities for people who are in recovery from illicit drug and alcohol use, while the larger aim is to challenge exclusion and stigma through a championed model of reintegration for other excluded and vulnerable populations. This can be done by channelling peer successes, and building on innovation and existing connections. 6 | drinkanddrugsnews | April 2019 T he central idea of an inclusive city is that no one should walk the recovery path alone. In an inclusive city, the city council, private and public organisations, housing providers, welfare and health centres, employers, and neighbours commit to working together with people in recovery to support them in their recovery process. By focusing on social connection, an inclusive city aims to challenge exclusion, and by doing so reduce stigmatisation. A strong example of social cohesion is the Northern Recovery College, where collective learnt, lived and worked experience based on ‘everyone has something to give’ comes together to share experiences of individual strength-based or community assets. There are countless examples of initiatives that fit within the idea of inclusive cities – they could be small steps involving limited budgets, or more structural steps such as establishing a social enterprise model. One of the aims of an inclusive city is to celebrate recovery and to create a safe environment supportive to recovery. After all, celebrations involve rituals, fostering social bonding and strengthening solidarity and social cohesion by bringing people together. But although we celebrate a lot of events in our lives, we don’t tend to celebrate successful recovery journeys. One of the first steps to celebrate recovery, therefore, is to make recovery visible. Activities such as recovery marches, recovery games, recovery bike rides and recovery cafes have been an attempt to create a visibility around recovery, as well as to create a common bond and to challenge exclusion and stigmatisation. Equally important are visible and strong representations in local and mainstream media, to create a balanced view of recovery and wellbeing and demonstrate visible community benefits. One example is high-profile clean-ups of injecting drug use litter near pharmacies, showing the value people in recovery place on where they live and helping to change public perceptions. We will attempt to collect success stories and promote innovations and exciting new initiatives through our website at http://inclusivecities.info Another aim is to focus on peer and community support and cohesion. Setting up a recovery café – such as the Serenity Café in Edinburgh, or Nottingham’s Café www.drinkanddrugsnews.com