This is what recovery looks like

Why it makes sense to do a mini-blog

Seems silly to do a normal weekly blog (running Mon – Sun) so splitting the details about my time in Berlin for Folsom. Thus I am only coverying three days last week, Mon to Wed as it was off to Berlin on Thurs. Normally such a short time might not warrant much to write about but it was actually three busy days.

Exercise pause – good or bad?

range of dumbells In terms of exercise, really a disaster last week. A good jog-run the previous Sun which can be read about in my previous blog. No gym on Mon because I had a coffee catch-up with my job-share Nissa as she had been off for a fortnight finishing her dissertation and having a well-deserved holiday. Then took mum’s washing round to the laundry. She is recovering well. She had her follow up appointment with the surgeon two weeks after surgery on the day I left for Berlin. She is even managing (slowly and with difficulty) to get up and down the stairs in her block. Very important otherwise she is imprisoned in her flat.

So no gym on Mon and nothing on Tues because I was in the office. Then on Wed out all day at a meeting about recovery projects. Thurs onwards I was in Berlin. I love going to the gym and I love my weekly jog-run. However there is a positive value in having a break. It rests the body (remember I’ve still got problems with my knees, achilles and calves). And it makes me appreciate the exercise more keenly when I get back.

computer imagesDigital Tuesday

Tues in work early to get stuff done before I go away:

  • Forwarding of final comments on the proposed Expression of Interest to do research on the ecosystems for social tech in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Catch up about connecting one of our projects with a high-profile blogger to raise awareness of the project and for fundraising.
  • Ongoing conversation on the shape of next year’s International Tech for Good grants programme. Plenty of time for conversation and consultation to make sure we get things right, and take everyone along as far as possible.

All change

Late morning a little pep talk by the head of the Grants Committee – a thoroughly decent chap and nice to be appreciated. Things are changing at work and last week we heard about our new CEO plus the Director of our Dept left. Then me and job-sharer Nissa were off to present to the co-funders of our next UK Tech for Good programme. We told them more about our Tech for Good work generally and how they will be assisting in choosing and managing the projects to be funded. Great reception including good questions. Then me and Nissa had a catch-up call with another funder to liaise about how our new funding programmes can complement each other.

La Belle Mere

To finish off a busy Tues, met up with my mother-in-law who was down in London for a few days. In French, mother-in-law translates as belle mere literally beautiful mother. Who said the French don’t have a sense of humour? I actually get on OK with mine. She’s very hard and northern though like all old people much of the conversation centres on health and meds. We disagree on Brexit, her view is ‘the people have spoken’. Yes but the people are being told racist lies. An evening in with my mum, our last night before I went on hols.

My wonderful abstinence-based recovery projects

Paper and Cup SCTSo Wed was the wrap-up event for the abstinence-based recovery projects that I have overseen for the last two years. They have been funded via the Give It Up fund – money raised by Russell Brand. Up and across to Paper and Cup in Shoreditch. This is the cafe for SCT – a 50 year old charity dealing with addiction, recovery and homelessness. Turns out P&C had a flood so wasn’t open. Still all the participants met up there and then we went to the Tab Centre to hear from each other. Four big recovery community projects were funded and twenty small grants were given out with a very high level of success. Of the big projects, three have excelled but unfortunately one crashed. Important for funders to be honest about failure as well as success and learn from this.

What was achieved

Fantastic that Russell Brand himself was able to be there in the afternoon to hear from the projects. Clean and Sober Living is the one that has not worked out in County Durham. But good news from the other three:

  • SCT has been able to extend its Choices programme that offers increased social activities and a new network of support to people in recovery. And importantly this is being run by the people in recovery themselves rather than staff. A 52 week service including Xmas/New Year. And a new magazine has also started about recovery which is distributed locally Normal.
  • Changes UK has opened its training centre at Recovery Central in Birmingham and used the Give It Up funding to provide support to increasing numbers of volunteers. The vast majority are people in recovery themselves but there are also some people not in recovery who want to do more to support those who are.
  • Nelson Trust has set up the Hub Bistro in Gloucester. A city centre bistro providing a proper commercial service as well as training, employment and meeting space for people in recovery.


All the projects have contributed to tackling stigma against people recovering from their addiction to drink and drugs just by being. And some have gone further – offering training and even challenging commissioners to take on board abstinence as a way forward rather than just harm reduction i.e. putting people on methadone and leaving them there.

Many thanks to Russell Brand

Russell BrandJuggling to get Russell interviewed as we are making a 2 min vid about the projects and their success. Annoyingly we had to be out of the venue as soon as our meeting ended. Back to Dave’s and chill time before packing the bags for the next day. Yaay – two intense work days over and holidays beckon.

Books and Reading

‘Heresy’ by S.J.Parris

One book read before going on hols. Heresy is a historical thriller set in the Elizabethan England. It reminds me enormously of C.J.Sansom and his ‘private detective’ Richard Shardlake. He operates in Henry VIII’s England. Heresy is ultimately all a bit silly and escapist. But it’s detail of the times it is set in and its appreciation of the era’s religious debates make it a very good read. I will definitely read some of her follow-up books.


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