A big clock, slugs, snails, and rooting for recovery in Sandwell

Oh what a flitterer I have been in the last week.

Birmingham University 15/9/23

For starters, whilst I was in the vicinity I visited Luke Trainor, Programme Manager of the Better Than Well Recovery Programme at Birmingham University. The sunshine was glorious on campus. The building couldn’t be better located being right near the main gates of the University and in view of the iconic clock. No being hidden away in the darkest depths.  Whilst we are on the subject of visibility, the clock has been lit up by night in the colour purple to highlight September as recovery month. Their support program offers a range of interventions and activities to students who are studying and working on their recovery.

My next stop was the Slugs, Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails event in University House. (Slight walking detour to find it, thanks Google Maps). I, of course, am biased as the organiser was the fabulous Dr. Sophie King-Hill, a good friend of mine who is conducting innovative projects and research around sex and gender-related issues. This event focused on masculinity, with speakers from a range of standpoints. Young men from a local school talked about their involvement in a mental health project to get boys talking. Whilst we have come some way to encourage men to speak up about emotions and mental health, there is still a way to go and starting young to improve emotional resilience is essential. Traditionally the construction industry isn’t big on the touchy feely stuff but times have to change. Chris has been championing the need for improved mental health support in the construction industry. With high rates of substance use and suicide rates it was both sobering but reassuring to hear of the in roads being made into this. We then heard from Scarlett who relayed her experiences of how boys and men treat women, and even girls, in totally unacceptable ways.  How amazing for a 14 year old to be able to stand up in front of professionals! More young people voices please! More accounts from people with living and lived experiences of issues make for much more realistic and emotive events like this.

An uplifting antidote to the reminder we are still living in a sexist world for our young women, and a difficult place for men to navigate their mental health, was the closing keynote speaker Elliott Rae. He gave us an uplifting talk on Positive Masculinity. We need good news stories and more men to showcase as positive role models  and the values of men to counter the toxic masculinity in society.  In the substance use field, we often see the results for men when they have less healthy coping strategies and when they have not felt able or had access to support, particularly as a child or young person. A really diverse and well balanced event with food for thought.

Roots of Recovery 19/9/23

After bumping into each other at the DDN conference I was invited along to the Roots of Recovery event in Sandwell by Nick Shough. With stalls from local projects and services it showed the power of community and the recovery capital which can wrap around the traditional treatment and recovery support services. Cranstoun were out in force with  Simon Wollaston, the Harm Reduction Project Lead, relaying experiences of engagement with people  as part of the SCORE  project. We even benefitted  from a couple of rap performances. I mean, I could’ve got up myself to do my very excellent rendition of Ice Ice Baby but it maybe wouldn’t have gone down quite as well. You can watch the video about the event below…

Alex Millington from Cranstoun threw away the notes to give us real authenticity about his experiences.  The SUIT service manager introduced us to two individuals who have been engaging with the Polish community reducing the language barriers people face in accessing support.  Other notable mentions…the DATUS crew, and the Black County Recovery College who I caught up with over refreshments.

Well worth a rainy trip up the M5.

Check out the work of any of the above that interest you and make those connections.


Twitter/X @StaceyInspire