James Deakin emphasises that members of North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) have to not only attend mutual aid groups, but also engage in a minimum of 20-30 hours community social activities a week. ‘It’s forming those sober connections, it’s being around other people that are clean and sober… it’s about connection.’ He provides an interesting analogy of a lion hunting its prey—it’s not the ones that are in the middle of the herd it catches, ‘it’s the weak ones that are straggling behind…’
James describes the early days of NWRC when community members would come up to him and say that they were part of a family. He felt uneasy about these testaments, thinking ‘boundaries’ and all that other ‘clinical stuff’. One day, Wulf Livingston took him aside and said, ‘These guys, for some of them, it is the first family that they’ve ever connected with, or ever felt part of. Who are you tell them that they’re not, or that we’re not a family?’
James points out that when a new member joins NWRC there is more emphasis upon the group to get them assimilated, than there is on the individual to get themselves assimilated into the group.
It may sound like a cliché James points out, but ‘we forge our bonds in adversity.’ He and Wulf discuss taking recovery community members on expeditions into the mountains. ’The only way they can get through it is relying on the support and the encouragement of other people.’