September is National Recovery month and will be marked in Sheffield with a series of events to celebrate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to promote and support recovery from drugs and alcohol.

This year’s theme is ‘Join the voices for recovery: Together we are stronger’ which focuses on increasing awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrating those who recover.

In partnership with Sheffield Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team, commissioned treatment providers and Sheffield Recovery Forum, the events and activities aim to bring together individuals and their families who may be either contemplating, starting or who have been in recovery for some time.

Sheffield treatment providers treat just over 3,000 people a year and in addition to the treatment offer, there is a Sheffield Recovery Community to offer support to help them continue on their journey.

Sheffield has a thriving recovery community with over 37 mutual aid/support groups that operate 7 days a week. These are mainly peer led, and support anyone wherever they are on their recovery journey so Sheffield is well-placed to support them as well as their families and friends.

In 2014 there were 64 people volunteering and giving back, totalling over 17, 550 volunteer hours a year. In 2017 this increased to 83 people volunteering and giving back, totalling 24,060 volunteer hours.

The full calendar of events includes weekly recovery walks, chill and chat sessions, pool and table tennis competitions at Cathedral Archer Project and a BBQ at Addaction. The activities will be rounded off with Sheffield Town Hall hosting a celebration event on Thursday 26 September, taking a look back at the month and celebrating all of the hard work that often goes on behind the scenes.

Stuart Whaley is one person who is thankful for the services that helped him on the road to recovery. He is now one of the volunteers who works on National Recovery Month.

Stuart said: “A big part of my recovery is about giving back, in return for all the support I have received from Sheffield treatment services and the recovery community. I strongly believe that without people in recovery helping others on the same journey, that there would be no recovery. We are lucky to have such an amazing recovery community in Sheffield and I for one am very grateful for all the support.”

Sheffield also manages the Recovery Ambassador Scheme, originally developed in 2009 by Sheffield DACT, and now managed by Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSC). It provides opportunities for people in recovery to access 6 months training followed by a volunteering placement with projects that support people with substance misuse problems.

Some of these projects include working with The Cathedral Archer Project, Fitzwilliam and Addaction. Since 2009, over 25 of these volunteers have gone onto full-time employment working in the addiction field, whilst others have pursued other careers or further education.

Councillor George Lindars-Hammond, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Sheffield City Council, said:

“Recovery from addiction takes time, patience and support and we’re glad to see this supportive recovery community working so hard to help people get free from drugs and alcohol.

“There is a lot of support in the city for people experiencing drug and alcohol issues and we want them to know that if they or someone they know needs help to make sure that they get in touch. All services in Sheffield take self-referrals and are open access, meaning people can walk in and be seen that day.

“The celebration events will offer time out for people to enjoy a mix of activities and will be very informative. We look forward to a busy month focusing on recovery and know how important it is to celebrate it in this way.”

Details of the month’s events are on the Sheffield Drug and Alcohol Coordination team’s (DACT) website www.sheffielddact.org.uk and the Sheffield Recovery Community Facebook page. More information is also available by calling 0114 2736851.