In 2005, I was working as External Examiner for a Foundation Degree course run by Clouds House, the residential rehab located in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, in conjunction with the University of Bath. During one of my visits, Tim Leighton, Director of the degree course, introduced me to the writings of Bill White from the US, an extraordinary recovery advocate, researcher, historian and educator.
Tim suggested that I read Bill’s book Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America , which is described as the remarkable story of America’s personal and institutional responses to alcoholism and other addictions. I can honestly say that this amazing book, and Bill’s other incredible writings, changed my life… and helped me devise a clearer strategy for my grassroots initiative Wired In. And, of course, it gave me a much better understanding of addiction recovery and how it can be facilitated.
In 2008, Bill agreed to become an Advisor for Wired in. On 18 March 2009, Action on Addiction and Wired In held a one-day recovery conference with Bill White as the main speaker, to which we invited leading recovery advocates from around the country, along with Pavel Nepustil from the Czech Republic, and three members of the National Treatment Agency (NTA).
Tim Leighton introduced Bill by describing his enormous contribution to the field. The latter gave an awesome two-part presentation in the morning on ‘Recovery Advocacy, Recovery Management and Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care.’ After my presentation, ‘The Importance of Community in Facilitating Recovery’ in the first part of the afternoon, there was a long discussion session.
The event, which was filmed by Alex Mackie of the Park View Project in Liverpool, was very well-received by the vast majority of the audience. I felt deeply honoured to speak alongside Bill and greatly enjoyed our fruitful discussions. There was a strong feeling that exciting things were beginning to happen and important connections being made in the UK. We thought that 18 March 2009 would go down as a special day in the history of the UK recovery advocacy movement.
I was given films of the various talks which I still have today. Years ago, I edited six clips of Bill White from these films, which I uploaded onto my Vimeo page. I have now posted these six clips on our Recovery Voices YouTube channel.
I will try and get these film tapes digitised and edited in the New Year, so we have a permanent record of the talks online. My apologies that I have not done this earlier.
L-R: Carl Edwards (Park View Project Liverpool), Bill White, Annemarie Ward (Faces & Voices of RecoveryUK) and Lucie James (Wired In).