REACH Advocacy Scotland is a grass roots membership charity made up, in part, of people in recovery from addiction and mental health problems. The membership also includes family members who have experience of living with people with addiction and mental health issues. We do not exclude others who do not fall under these health conditions. We see the absolute value of having a membership made up of people with core skills enabling the successful facilitation and development of the Charitable aims of the organisation.
The formation and the development of our charitable purposes grew from discussing shared experiences of addiction and mental health problems. During this process we covered issues such as; relationships, family issues, navigating health services, benefit issues, housing, education and employment issues. These factors had a pivotal role to play in each individual’s recovery journey and were a recurring theme in everyone’s narrative.
When looking back through these narratives we saw examples of what was helpful and what would have been helpful during the development of the recovery journey. Two broad themes emerged; firstly, the issue of advocacy support and secondly; the notion of moving on from clinical and support services to being actively involved in developing a new path back into education or employment.
This set us on a course of action to examine extant literature on the recovery journey and related supports that have been evidenced for being crucial to recovery. We looked at models of peer support and interventions and when we looked around there appeared to be many organisations providing this type of support.
Investigations revealed advocacy for recovery from addiction was not so readily available. This was unlike advocacy for primary mental health issues which has a solid and well populated group of organisations providing services for this health population. Currently there are 11 organisations affiliated with the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance who state that they offer an advocacy service for substance misuse problems. Ten of these are non-addiction specialists and principally provide for other populations. The remaining service provides a specific Advocacy service for people with Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD).
Out with these, there was no addiction specific advocacy service available for people. This contrasts with a consistent strategic interest in such services:
Effective Interventions Unit (2004a), Advocacy for Drug Users: A Guide
Scottish Government (2008) The Road to Recovery: A New Approach to Tackling Scotland’s Drug Problem,
Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (2010) Available for All: A Report on Independent Advocacy for Individuals with Problem Drug Use in Scotland,
Department for Work and Pensions (2010) Working Paper No 9: Population Estimates of alcohol misusers who access Eds: Hay, G. and Bauld, L.
Department of Work and Pensions (2010) Alcohol misusers’ experiences of employment and the benefit system. Eds: Bauld, L., Silver, K., Templeton, L., Novak, C., Hay, G., McKell, J. and Carroll, C.
Department of Work and Pensions (2010) Problem drug users' experience of employment and the benefit system Eds Bauld, l., Hay, G., McKell, J. and Carroll, C
In the Effective Interventions Unit (2004a, p.3) cited the following reasons for having an Independent Advocacy Service for drug users from a drug-users perspective:
Drug users often need to use a wide range of specialist and generic services. Advocacy can help them find out what services are available and how to access them.
By being knowledgeable about specific subjects, an advocate can add weight and credibility to a client’s case.
Advocacy can help people understand their rights and the range of choices.
We will be adding more soon........