The second of a three-part Themes series focused on building a recovery community, with my colleague Wulf Livingston using developments over time at North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) as an example. Wulf has been closely involved with NWRC and its Founder, James Deakin, since its beginnings in 2015.
Wulf points out that critical to the success of NWRC is that members have access to plenty of free environmental space on their doorstep. No-one has charged them for taking a walk on a beach or going up a mountain. It is more difficult to create a similar entity in a large city, although he makes reference to the success of LEAP (Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme), founded by Dr. David McCartney.
NWRC has been built on the use of land for growing things, and a wide range of social activities in nature. ‘It’s a community of its physical space.’ Wulf says, ‘I think the notion of commissioning recovery is almost an oxymoron. Because if recovery is coming from within and the community and the peers, you can’t actually buy it as a commissioner.’
James, the NWRC Trustees and Wulf are very conscious of not becoming the organisation that they were almost set up to be the antithesis of. It’s difficult to remain true to that principle when so much funding that is required to do the things they do is compromised, or comes with caveats. A major conversation in NWRC centres around the question of, ‘Which of the Kings Shillings can we take?’ Importantly, NWRC now has several big, local businesses supporting them and not wanting to control the NWRC agenda.
The wearisome thing for organisations like NWRC and people like James Deakin, ‘Is perpetually having to defend what it is that we don’t do, rather than being applauded for what we do.’ When you become a very different type of organisation, people in the system ask, ‘Why aren’t you doing things in the way we professionals do?’
Wulf is optimistic for NWRC’s future. He sees it being an integral part of two local communities: the recovery community in the area, and the town community as a whole.