Who are we?
We are a UK-wide based charitable think tank & human rights advocacy service led by people with living and lived experience of alcohol and other drugs representing the voices of communities affected by addiction. We are a UK wide membership organisation with over 5000 members. We are also a advocacy case worker service provider. We are led, developed, managed & sustained by lived experience professionals.
What we do
We empower people through education, providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure they are aware of their own rights and have the confidence to voice them.
We challenge public policy in order to remove obstacles and promote equitable access to treatment systems and options.
We call out stigma and promote equality for people with living and lived experience of alcohol and other drugs.
To save and improve the lives of people affected by alcohol and other drugs by providing a voice of conscience.
To encourage and promote a more balanced investment into treatment services by public bodies and other funders.
Increase society’s understanding of the links between trauma and the use of alcohol and other drugs, promoting the values of patience, understanding and empathy.
To influence and shape public policy, removing the tokenism around the way that the voices of living and lived experiences are heard.
To celebrate and promote a culture of hope through our annual national recovery walk, inviting communities to walk with us through towns and cities across the UK.
Background purpose and aims
FAVOR UK (Faces and voices of recovery UK) started life in 2009 with the primary aim of connecting people with living and lived experience of addictions to alcohol and other drugs.
We did this through our well-known and respected National Recovery Walks which took place in towns and cities across the UK. These walks gave our communities the strength in numbers to walk together and be open about our experiences with substances, and to show wider communities that we were ordinary people – breaking down the stereotypes and stigma that normally surrounds us. We officially registered as a charity in 2012, taking pains to recruit a board of trustees with their own lived experiences in order that the concept of ‘lived experience leadership’ remained at the heart of what we do. We recruited a CEO with the passion, drive and eloquence that we needed to spearhead what we wanted to achieve. For those who have met Annemarie Ward or heard her speak, you will no doubt agree that although our charity is small, our voices are not.
The 2020 pandemic had an obvious impact on our activities – forcing us to postpone our recovery walks in 2020/21. One thing we did not want to do is sit and wait it out. We came together as a board and considered what else we could do – where else were we needed? The pandemic gave us time to reflect on our aims and to re-evaluate the direction of the charity.
Together we considered the current UK landscape for people with addictions and reflected on what we were seeing and hearing over the last few years:
- Increasing numbers of people were still dying from preventable overdoses.
- Individuals and family members were reporting inequitable opportunities accessing residential treatment. There appeared to be a post-code lottery with some local authorities investing more than others.
- People were unaware of their rights to publicly funded drug and alcohol treatment, and had no independent advocacy when they needed it.
- There wasn’t enough investment in the treatment for trauma – often one of the underlying reasons for problematic substance use.
- We saw an unacceptable level of stigma around people with living and lived experiences in workplaces and in the mainstream media. Unhelpful and discriminatory language and labels were still being used with impunity.
- We heard that the voices of living and lived experiences were sometimes cherry-picked, and that not everyone was invited to the table.
In April 2021, led by our enigmatic CEO Annemarie Ward, we re-visited our aims, and made the decision to re-focus our energies on our campaigning and advocacy activities, whilst still retaining some of our core activities like our National Recovery Walk.
We are going to be brave and outspoken – calling out social injustice and encouraging our communities to speak out for themselves. We will become a vehicle for the voice of conscience, holding people to account for what we believe is right. We will continue to develop campaigns such as #Youkeeptalkingwekeepdying – reminding society that deaths from overdose are preventable and leave behind decimated families and communities.
We are excited to reveal our revised purpose and set of aims that will give our charity the foundation from which to develop our activities in 2021 and beyond.
HOW WE DO IT
Our advocacy caseworker project focuses on the identification of local issues facing people seeking access to drug and alcohol treatment in their locale and, through involvement and wider consultation, co-produces the design and delivery of a local response to tackle those issues through support and advocacy. The focus is on the practical impact and empowerment of people with entrenched addiction issues; untapping expert lived experience to deliver more informed and enriched services.
Our programmes of active and assertive outreach ensures that we reach people in the community at the services they are using & attempting to access. The approach taken by us recognises that the individuals we seek to engage with face more barriers already, so we go to them and whilst seeking to learn from their experiences and involve them in our work, we provide them with access to our support and advocacy workers. This approach aims to improve individual outcomes whilst learning about the wider societal and systemic changes that are required.
We empower people through education, providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to ensure they are aware of their own rights and have the confidence to voice them.
We challenge public policy in order to remove obstacles and promote equitable access to treatment systems and options. You can read about some of our campaign work by searching google using our name as there have been many press article written about our work. You can also search Youtube for the many movies made about the UK recovery walk which is the largest annual recovery gathering in Europe. You can also read about our latest campaign work here, & also by reading our news section.
FIGHTING THE STIGMA OF ADDICTION
- Willingness to attend treatment and access to healthcare.
- Harm reduction.
- Self-esteem and mental health.
You can see some short films made of our work challenging stigma here
We provide the addiction treatment and recovering community with practical information and tools to enhance their capacity to engage in effective stigma reduction efforts. We unify the recovery community around key priorities — to reduce stigma by ending discrimination against people in recovery. We are working to eliminate barriers to recovery for every UK citizen and every family, and to help today’s children and future generations, who often are the biggest winners in the process of recovery.
We facilitate a UK wide conversation for people in recovery, their friends, families and allies as well as those still suffering. We are committed to eliminating stigma, shaping public policy and educating people by bringing recovery into the public consciousness. We accomplish this through the promotion and celebration of recovery, by demonstrating recovery as a positive healing force, and by being the voice for those who have not yet found theirs. We support all pathways to recovery and we support initiatives such as Recovery Day, Rally for Recovery and Recovery Month.
We encourage those in recovery from addiction, and their friends, family members and allies to build awareness, challenge societal stigma, and celebrate the role that recovery plays in improving the lives of individuals, families, and communities.
RECOVERY SAVES LIVES
To find out how you get involved email us at
Annemarie Ward was elected in a unanimous vote taken by the trustees on December 5th 2013 to become the Charity Chief Executive Officer.
Annemarie Ward is the founder of the UK Recovery Walk Charity – now known as Faces & Voices of Recovery UK (May 2015). The aim of the charity is to be a policy advocacy movement that is taking on issues of discrimination, social justice and service access.
We are also a public and professional education movement, intent on challenging stigma. We do this by delivering messages of hope to the cultures of addiction within our systems and treatment.
The Walks are an opportunity for us to announce our presence and, in time, mobilise and organise our community.
In the past Annemarie’s work included being a founding director of the UK Recovery Federation, The alcohol and drug partnership co-ordinater for Ayrshire and the head of research & development for a small charity . Her work has also included the development, implementation, monitoring and review of local research & development schemes in health-related services. She has also conducted a variety of small research projects, managed self harm and addiction projects, regularly written funding bids and organised workshops, seminars, conferences and training courses on a variety of alcohol and other drug issues.
In that previous life Annemarie had addictions to various substances, (not a drug of choice kind of gal, she liked them all till they stopped working). In fact, she says the only substances she hasn’t tried are ‘alcopops’, & legal highs- she got into ‘recovery’ before their introduction – and glue, as where she grew up, glue was for boys and gas was for girls.
In August 2022 Annemarie celebrated 25 years of complete abstinence from all mind and mood altering substances.
Annemarie has a Masters degree (2005) and successfully completed a PG cert in Competence in Managing Drug and Alcohol services (2008) both from the University of Glasgow.
You can connect personally with Annemarie below.
Add her on twitter https://twitter.com/Annemarieward
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dougie’s experience of working in the areas of addiction and recovery extends over 27 years. Having started out a psychology and philosophy graduate interested in why some people developed addiction problems, while others appeared more resistant. Engaging first as a volunteer, he trained as an alcohol counsellor under the Scottish Council on Alcohol, before moving on to counsel those with both alcohol and drugs problems at Cumbernauld & Kilsyth Addiction Service. Throughout this time, Dougie served on the Management Committee of the charity, supported its transformation to a Cumbernauld and Lanarkshire Counselling Service, and then through a merger to its final status as Council On Alcohol – North Lanarkshire.
After completing a PGC in Alcohol and Drug Studies, and separately researching the notion of addiction day care services, he joined Realise Community Care Service as a volunteer to assist its early creation of such a facility. In time, Dougie spent seven years as manager and developed it into a protype community rehabilitation service. A significant approach at Realise, which contributed to much of its success was its focus on One of the key tasks during this time was to guide the charity through its incorporation to become Realise Community Project Ltd.
After further research into similar approaches, and then completing a PGC in Leadership of Drug and Alcohol Services, he joined SAMH to set up the Foundry, the commissioned community rehabilitation service for East Dunbartonshire. During this seven-year period, Dougie engaged with the Fundraising team to secure the largest grant the organisation had ever received in order to implement a follow-on service, called SoRTED (Strengthening of Recovery Throughout East Dunbartonshire). During this time, these two services led the development of a new network of community SMART Recovery meetings throughout the area.
Dougie has since gone back to university to complete an LLB (Honours) in Scots Law and is currently engaged on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice on part-time basis. Dougie also currently serves as the first Chair of SISCO, a newly established charity that consolidated five years of previous work by SISCO’s Founder and CEO in developing recovery cafes in both HMP Barlinnie and HMP Shotts. Since SISCO’s incorporation, the charity has now extended its reach into the community in order to provide a seamless platform of support for those wishing to pursue recovery as they approach the end of their sentences; Sustainable Interventions Supporting Change Outside.
Dougie says he is extremely excited about his new role with FAVOR UK as provides the opportunity to bring together all his experience in addiction and his more recent studies in law. He believes that FAVOR UK has the profile and expertise to lead in bringing about the systematic changes that are required in Scotland, to represent the rights of those affected by addiction, and to tackle the discrimination faced by those seeking help.
Dougie believes that we can’t keep piling up the numbers of people being maintained on substitute medication. We also need to help people change. In order to do that, we need to re-introduce widespread provision of, and access to, residential and community rehabilitation services. Everyone should have the right to that opportunity. We also need to re-establish the provision of local addiction support services that used to maintain contact with those most at risk. These services used to exist in the same areas that experience the heaviest tolls in Scotland’s ongoing crisis of drug-related deaths. Everyone has the right to life and health. Everyone should have the right to recovery.
I am one of many Faces and Voices of Recovery who do not see young, smart, people with a passion to promote recovery having a seat at a table where we can be heard and influence or impact recovery, when we have credible lived experience. I am a woman in Recovery and part of a family in recovery.
I am one of the founders of Recovery Coach Community CIC, and a lead trainer for Recovery Coach Academy, as one of the first two CCAR Authorised facilitators and Recovery Coach Professional Designates in the UK. We help Individuals, groups and organizations learn, train and utilize recovery coaching by educating, collaborating & supporting people to feel empowered themselves as well as empower others.
We do this by supporting organizations to build their Recovery Communities, as well as Supporting Individuals to implement Recovery Coaching.
I am very fortunate to have experienced recovery communities in the USA, and now have the opportunity to bring this to the UK; by combining my personal and professional experiences together to make a positive impact on Recovery.
After moving to England from Texas in June 2018, I engaged in recovery communities & services to enhance my knowledge around the culture of recovery in the UK. Prior to the start of Recovery Coach Communities CIC, I was employed at Turning Point where within a year and a half I moved from volunteer, to employee as manager of the Recovery cafe; then went on to be promoted to a Recovery worker. I received an award at the Houses of Parliament due to my successes within Turning Point.
You can find out more about Certified Recovery Coaching in the UK here
Dublin born and bred I am a woman in long term recovery Sandra Losty has worked in the community voluntary sector since 1996. Sandra managed variety of services that provide support to people experiencing homelessness, substance use disorder and mental health issues. Sandra managed both residential and day services that provide support to some of the most vulnerable service users in city.
With a BA in community development studies Sandra believes grassroots organisations really have their ear to the ground and have an eye to spot what are very often simple solutions. Some of her top values are captured by this Margret Meade quote
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. Sandra believes being thoughtful and committed are actually super powers.
While trained as a life coach for many years Sandra trained with Recovery Coach Academy UK as a Recovery Coach and attained her RCP designation with CCAR.
Sandra is the founder of Recovery Hour an all-inclusive recovery online space that was a crisis response to the pandemic and has grown into a global community that still meet to support each other 2 years later. Recovery Hour provides recovery focused meetings and a safe space to communities of interest such as a women’s group and an LGBTQ+ group.
Recovery Hour recognises there are many pathways to recovery and is governed by the values of
Respect, Inclusion, Support and Kindness.
Sandra is very excited to be a trustee on the board of FAVOR UK and to be in such good company of those who are also committed to bringing about change for those who need it the most in society.
I have worked in the voluntary sector for 20 years, the majority of this time working in the drug and alcohol field. My experience includes working both as a practitioner in treatment and as a manager overseeing harm reduction, a blood-borne virus service, outreach and community work.
I currently work for the second largest multi-agency service in the UK; Forward Leeds. I manage the aftercare element of the service, group work provision and the Recovery Hub; 5 Ways @ the Recovery Academy.
Peer support and co-production is in the heart of what we do at 5 Ways and something I am genuinely passionate about.
I have experience in service development and always strive to improve and provide the best opportunities. For me, working in this area, it’s important for people to feel a sense of belonging and ownership. My manager will often say I take risks, but I like to think it’s more about trusting your instincts and knowing what works. I’m a firm believer in giving someone a chance, listening to those receiving a service, knowing your team and peers and utilising and developing the skills presented to you.
Although not in recovery myself, I count myself as been extremely lucky, having spent my teens and 20s at various raves up and down the country and many a night at some ‘blues party’. I have close friends and family in recovery and receiving treatment. I have a deep understanding and experience of the impact addiction can have on the individual and family members.
I am a qualified counsellor (person-centred) and have a Level 4 qualification in Leadership and Management (ILM)
I am a parent of two boys, well, one boy and an adult and recently became a grandma. In my free time, I love the outdoors, walking and camping, catching up with friends, good food and feet up watching a good box set.
I feel honoured to be a trustee for FAVORUK and are very much looking forward to supporting Faces and Voices of Recovery UK promoting and advocating the charity to both those in recovery and services who provide support, reducing stigmas associated with addiction and showing that recovery is possible.
John is now the proud owner of Somerton Lodge, an alcohol free hotel on the Isle of Wight, a safe destination for anyone want a sober holiday. With multiple years in recovery John has been developing work around 12 Step recovery and CBT. He is the author of a few successful books and has designed rehab programmes that are used by various services including Recovery Connections and We Are With You. Continually training and learning about the different aspects and approaches to recovery John has just become a member of the International Association of Recovery Coach Professionals and has earned the RCP designation.
Jon is a highly respected member of the UK recovery community. His wealth of experience will benefit greatly our efforts to support the recovery community and recovery advocacy here in the UK. Here is what he wrote when we asked him to write a short bio.
“I am married to Nadia, a dad to three children and have been in abstinent recovery from addiction to drugs and drink since 1990.
I started work as a trainee counsellor in a 12 step residential treatment centre in 1991 and this was the first step in a career that has been a privilege, joy and adventure these last 22 years helping others to achieve recovery. I have a Diploma in Counselling, an MBA and am a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. After various posts as a practitioner, manager and senior manager in the voluntary and private sector I joined my current employer the Bridge Project as its Chief Executive Officer in 2007. Today Bridge employs over 60 staff and provides treatment and recovery services to over 2,000 people per year.
In addition to my day job, I actively promote recovery initiatives as a founder member of the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Recovery Consortium and have helped organise Recoverfest, the Region’s main recovery event these past two years. I was a member of the Department of Health Expert Group on Addiction to Medicines reporting to the Public Health Minister and I am a member of the Drugscope Chief Executive’s Forum. A special area of interest for me is developing stronger links between treatment and mutual aid. Currently I am a member of the Public Health England National Mutual Aid Reference Group, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the national strategic action plan and developing a series of products to facilitate better pathways from treatment into mutual aid.
After working for so many years in the treatment sector, I am inspired by the fantastic work that is being taken forward by Faces and Voices of Recovery Charity and believe that by becoming a Trustee it will enable me to take a more active personal role in service and gratitude for my own gift of recovery.
I am honoured to become a Trustee of the FAVOR UK and offer my business skills, passion and knowledge of addictions recovery to support the Chief Executive, fellow Board Members and the aims of the charity.”
I was appointed Managing Director of the Abbeycare Group in November 2015 having previously been the Director of a specialist care company providing residential accommodation and 24-hour support for people with complex mental health needs. During my time at Abbeycare we have seen the organisation flourish and we now employ almost 100 staff across the group and provide various support and treatment to around 750 people across the country every year. The aim of the company is to continue to grow and to make high quality treatment more widely accessible, from both a geographic and a financial perspective.
I initially heard about the FAVOR UK and the UK Recovery Walk in late 2016 when I discovered that the 2017 walk would be held in Blackpool which is also the location of Abbeycare’s head office. I immediately offered the support of both myself the Company and that support has continued to this day.
I divide my time equally between our flagship Gloucester service and our long established Scotland service and while I am in Scotland I am also able to spend time with my partner, Dean, who lives in Edinburgh.
I am delighted to be a trustee of FAVOR UK and look forward to bringing fresh ideas, enthusiasm and continuous support to the Chief Executive and fellow trustees as we promote and advocate the important work the charity does.
Kenyan-born Rondine Molinaro has worked in the drug and alcohol field since 2015 following her own 16 years experience of drug use. She has performed various roles within the field including detox and aftercare, Peer Mentoring Management, Therapeutic practice lead, Drug and Alcohol Services management, Contract management, Social Enterprise and Co-production, Bid Writing and Fundraising. She currently works for Kaleidoscope as the contract lead for Birchwood Detox Centre in the Wirral, Cairn House dual diagnosis residential centre in Kingston-Upon-Thames and for the Shropshire Recovery Partnership.
Rondine is passionate about pioneering peer mentoring initiatives and in 2013 successfully implemented a peer mentoring project with Prescoed open prison which resulted in over 5 serving prisoners gain the skills and experience to find paid employment within the sector.
She is the organisational service user lead in Kaleidoscope and in 2010 set us a successful service user group ‘The Voice’ – who went on to write the service user strategy on behalf of the Gwent Area Planning Board. The Voice also produced publications such as the ‘Service User Guide to Care Planning’ which raises awareness for service users around best practice and what they should expect from their care plan.
Rondine has a qualification in Motivational Enhancement Therapy from Leeds University and has an Advanced Diploma in Fundrasing (IOF). She sits on the Welsh Government Advisory Panel for Substance Misuse APoSM and is an avid campaigner for Service User Rights.
‘I am thrilled to be a trustee for FAVORUK and look forward to using my skills to assist the charity to develop their advocacy work’