Bridging the Gap Between Treatment Services and Mutual Aid
Helping Groups to Grow is a charity based in Mid Wales. During the last six years it has supported the development and application of recovery-orientated intervention programmes with various service providers and partners throughout Wales. The aim of the Moving On In My Recovery (MOIMR) is to support the development of mutual aid and peer support as a key component of the provision of drug and alcohol treatment provision. The programme aims to be a key part in the bridge out of formal treatment provision and into the mutual aid community. The programme trains individuals who have been through treatment and who are actively involved in mutual aid, to deliver a 12-session group work programme to women and men who are preparing to move on from formal treatment provision. These peers facilitate groups alongside key staff from drug and alcohol services who both co-lead the groups and act as programme champions within their own organisations.
Helping Groups to Grow is working with treatment providers and recovery groups across Wales. For example, over the last 18 months the MOIMR programme has been rolled out in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Barry, Brecon, Bridgend, Cardiff, Haverfordwest, Llanelli, Merthyr, Neath, Newtown, Pontypridd, Port Talbot, Rhondda, & Swansea. The Area Planning Board has commissioned MOIMR to be rolled out across the six regions of north Wales.
MOIMR is continuing to spread across Wales. Its success might be attributed to three things: first, the project’s aims (i.e., it intends to bridge the gap between treatment services and mutual aid); second, in how it was developed (i.e., based on experiences of people in recovery themselves and of experienced clinicians); and third, in how it is delivered (i.e., jointly with treatment staff and with people involved in mutual aid).
The programme was developed from conversations with more than 100 people in recovery and clinicians by asking them what topics were important to discuss when leaving treatment services and by asking them what strategies and techniques helped them the most. The programme covers many topics to do with mental wellbeing, dealing with difficult issues like loss, stigma, shame, relapse and practical ways of enhancing life. All of the topics discussed and strategies used are based on psychological theory and evidence-based techniques that work in practice. A real strength of the programme is the use of metaphor and images to bring to life the challenging concepts and issues discussed.
The benefit of the programme for participants, and for facilitators, has been wide reaching and at times it has been profoundly empowering. We are delighted by the impact the programme has had and how it can provide a key link in bridging the gap between treatment services and mutual aid.