I have worked in this field for over 2 decades. I have worked across the length & breadth of the UK. During that time, on the ground in service delivery, operations management & strategic planning regionally, nationally & even internationally. I am now entering my 25th year of recovery.
For the last decade we have witnessed the systematic destruction & disinvestment of our services & the consequences that came from that, everything from cut throat contracts, leading to insolvency, mammoth 3rd sector charities emerging & search engine optimisation referral companies sharing the most obscene profits while our friends & family die.
We have stood by helplessly while friends, committed, passionate purposeful dedicated people burn out, leave, and become more traumatised by the day. We have witnessed the brutal self-harm that is the lack of unity & consequence of the continued fuelling of the polarisation of harm reduction & recovery services. We have witnessed friends & family die, watching the slow car crash as each reached out for help that more often than not wasn’t there in sufficient quantity for them to access.
We have watched dispairingly as the lack of evaluation, evidence, accountably & responsibility to the people and their families who are suffering continues with until recent years with shoulder shrugs, hand wringing and inappropriate blame that includes internalised stigma from the organisations who are supposed to be serving us.
As you probably know in recent years, I have no longer been able to accept the things I cannot change & we have put tremendous effort into personal, organisational & movement leadership which has brought us all to the moment in time where we have a bill to change all of what we have all gone through.
This currently named RIGHT TO RECOVERY Bill has the ability to bring that evaluation, accountability, responsibility, evidence & so much more, not just a rhetorical document but to change our actual reality.
It’s not another set of guidelines, standards or recommendations that can be easily ignored.
IT IS A CHANGE TO THE LAW.
Imagine a world where people have legally actionable rights to a well-resourced professional sector that really values itself & the people it cares for.
In recent weeks we have saw some debate from the consultation of this bill where people & organisations have concluded that raising individual legal challenges to poor or irrational decision making would divert money from other treatment options.
This not only couldn’t be any further off the mark if it tried, it completely misses the point on having actionable rights under the law. In no other sector do we hear this narrative. In no other sector would this conversation even happen, at no point do we question if a homeless person should have a legal right to accommodation, at no point do we question if a disabled person should have protection under the Equality Act. I often wonder if it is because we have become so worn down that we only expect to fight each other for the crumbs from the table for our staff, our organisations our leaders and most of all the people we are so desperately trying to serve.
Ask yourself this – If rights-based legislation is to be opposed on the basis that it ‘diverts’ money to the courts, should we also oppose the Human Rights Act of recent amendments to the Children’s Act? No, of course not – We should never get embroiled in an argument that because other people don’t have rights then no one should.
But let’s be clear, legal action would only be needed if someone done something not in the spirit of the legislation or any subsequent guidance, legal challenges couldn’t be raised if people got what they have the right to receive. On that basis money won’t be going to the courts, even if that was how the system worked.
Earlier this week I used the analogy of instead of fighting each other over the crumbs – we should be fighting together for the cake itself. I want to take the analogy further. This bill, if passed, would give us the ability to put on a Christmas style 5 star buffet where everyone could have access and choice to the menu, people would be able to access and choose the food they need and providers would be able to provide all the necessary ingredient’s.
Our services often referred to as Cinderella services, when this bill is passed we could, and indeed would, go to the ball.
We are standing at a pivotal moment in time. Bizarrely and unfortunately this moment has been met with fear, resistance, silence, dismissal and even scorn from within some sections the sector. A sector who often states its person centred and rights based. Making rights real flies in the face of that. If the sector was a sponsee I would be encouraging a pause for relection & be saying “whats your part in this” then if there has been disturbance or harm cased by action or inaction we would be setting about the process & discussing the formula for ammends together.
All our people have been denied access, neglected, & are inappropriately shamed. This includes families, individuals, staff and service providers. We all deserve the full buffet so we can feed, fuel and nurture each other’s healing. In fact we know after decades of only putting on a meagre spread that half measures have availed us very little. There has been a catastophic & abject failure of Coordianted Unity & Leadership which given the overwhelming common purpose stuns. Just like the progressive nature of addiction if we don’t do anything to change, nothing will change.
This Bill is the change we all need. This change comes from people who have lived and died whilst working in and navigating the whole system.
We can only hope the often self-destructive nature of the industry again reflecting the nature of the condition it’s trying with great ham strings to treat – can get out its own way and #BackOorBill. We also encourage, with a whole heart, that anyone who believes in a rights based approach such as this, but has issues with the content, please pull up a chair to the buffet table & fix this through the consultation process & make sure all dietary requirements are on the menu. This bill is for Everyone.
We implore you to be fearless, we ask you to set aside your own ideological, or political, beliefs. In truth we ask you to do this, because truly as rude as it might seem, your political ideological and beliefs about this condition do not matter. What does matter is that our friends and family have access and choice to the full plethora of services that will not just keep us alive but that can help us rebuild our lives and live well again.
#OorBill will give us all that gift this Christmas.
Some suggested repsonse & links to the consultation can be found here