Rowan Anderson, Manager (Partnership Drugs Initiative)
This week was pretty momentous for me for two reasons; first because I got to give my first rumination as an Associate Lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland (…OH HELLO IMPOSTOR SYNDROME!) and secondly, the new alcohol and drug strategy was launched, after eighteen months attending advisory groups (the first time I’d ever gotten to do something like that – again, the impostor syndrome has been very real this year!) with many learned, wise colleagues who I have greatly admired professionally from afar for years.
In both instances, I was invited to give my thoughts, advice and experience on a complex issue – the needs of children and families affected by alcohol and drugs – something so important, so challenging and so easy to get completely wrong if not considered properly.
And so today I read through the published strategy, familiar from earlier drafts but now firmly the foundation of Scotland’s approach to supporting people affected by alcohol and drugs. Corra Foundation’s PDI (Partnership Drugs Initiative) has a strong commitment to human rights and so the title of the strategy ‘Rights, Respect and Recovery’, reflects exactly what we hoped the strategy would – taking a rights based, public health approach to supporting not only the people who have issues with alcohol and drugs, but their children and families too. This is a strong stance, and one which has the potential to be transformational to the experiences of using – or being connected to – care, treatment and support services. Expressing in a national strategy that good quality care and support is a right means that the morality based, stigmatising judgements that people have at times experienced in the past should stop. Now receiving good care and treatment and being respected is a right – something someone is entitled to without question. Not a kindness, nor a service that someone might get if they comply to certain expectations or behaviour, but an unequivocal and undeniable right.
The new strategy is clear that these rights extend to children and families too, stating that they are entitled to care and support in their own right. The strategy recognises that families are protective for people who have issues with alcohol and drugs, understanding that loving someone with an addiction can be almost unbearably difficult at times; and that it often comes with a whole host of hardships that impact on children and families as they try their best to keep things together.
Corra Foundation’s action research project Everyone Has a Story showed clearly the enduring importance of those family ties – and that’s what we want to investigate further as we develop our new research project. This will be focussed on whole family approaches and relationships, building on the importance of listening to children and young people. We believe relationships are key to properly supporting children and families, and that those relationships are built by truly listening to people.
This is something Corra is absolutely committed to, and keen to develop over the next year as we continue to enhance our PDI Young People’s Steering Group and look to recruit people with lived experience of alcohol/drugs to our PDI Steering Group.
Corra Foundation warmly welcomes ‘Rights, Respect and Recovery’ and looks forward to working with partners to help make it a reality. The strategy offers an exciting next step on that long road to recovery. We know our rights, we know how we’re getting there, and we know that we’re going to be listened to along the way. Sounds like a pretty good route planner to me.