I interviewed my Recovery Voices colleague Wulf Livingston twice last year, the details of which were posted on our website on 18 September (18 films, 80 minutes approx) and 20 September (12 films, 77 minutes approx).
I first met Wulf in 2000 when I was in charge of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Fund (DATF) national evaluation in Wales. The local evaluator for North Wales, Anni Stonebridge, had introduced my colleague Becky Hancock and I to Wulf, who was Community Services Manager for the drug and alcohol treatment service CAIS at the time. We were really impressed with Wulf, so Anni ensured that we always got together with him whenever we visited North Wales.
Wulf and I remained in touch over the years, albeit only periodically. We started to interact more over the past couple of years and I visited him and his wife last September. We realised we had a lot in common, and a shared passion for recovery and for social justice issues.
In his interviews, Wulf talked about his early hedonistic drug and alcohol use, life as a successful chef, and qualification as a social worker. He then worked with the drug and alcohol charity Lifeline in England, CAIS and later the Probation Service in North Wales. Wulf later joined academia, eventually becoming Professor of Alcohol Studies at Wrexham University. He believes strongly that what really makes a difference to people’s lives is what occurs beyond the addiction treatment phase.
I am enthralled by Wulf’s passion for social justice, his knowledge about what is needed to help more people recover from addiction, and his commitment to helping create positive societal change. Here are three of my favourite Wulf Theme clips, taken from a total of 39 in his YouTube Theme Playlist.
Wulf believes that recovery advocacy has lost its way at the moment, due to large numbers of people with lived experience being employed by drug and alcohol treatment agencies: ’You can’t challenge or be independent once you’re taking the King’s Shilling, the salary as it were.’ [2’29”]
‘You change the articles and conditions, or the memorandum or your legal status of the organisation, to allow you to trade in a bigger circle. And that’s all about feeding a corporate identity. It’s actually got absolutely nothing to do with the individuals underneath.’ [2’21”]
North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) started as a singular community—residential rehabilitation recovery community—but once there was enough recovery in the house, it was time to invite ‘the recovery that was around the house into the house.’ Later, friends of recovery became involved with NWRC. [2’27”]