Funding Boost for Resilience Learning Partnership

RLP funding boost to support those with lived experience of trauma

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded just over £73,000 from the National Lottery Fund to continue our core work over the next couple of years.

This funding will enable us drive forward our very own Trauma Informed Education and Recruitment (TIER) training pathway which will empower even more people with lived experience to take the next step in their lives, nurture their ambition and help them to realise their own ambitions and goals for the future.

We can’t thank our funders enough for believing in this work, believing in us and, most importantly, recognising the value, talent and true expertise that lived experience brings to the table.

Shumela Ahmed – Managing Director

Read our latest feature in the Alloa Advertiser here.

If you would like to know more about our work, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Recovery in Lockdown

‘My Recovery in Lockdown’ is a heartfelt and honest account of how one individual, Jamie Lee, was able to overcome new challenges to her recovery while in lockdown.

A week before lockdown was announced, I was suffering from burnout, I had been doing way too much and not taking any time for myself to recharge. This resulted in me having a week-long break from my volunteering commitments with Forth Valley Recovery Community (FVRC). I spent the week catching up on sleep and recharging with napping throughout the day and doing little, other than soaking in bubble baths and lazing around watching TV. After two weeks of doing truly little activity and having minimal contact with fellow recovering addicts, I started to miss human contact.

Prior to lockdown, I was a Walk Leader with FVRC; I was always busy with setting up and leading walks with fellow members in Clackmannanshire. I also took part in group walks in Stirling during the weekend, which always boosted my mood and made sure I got outside and did some exercise. I was able to attend my home group Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Meeting for the last time in person. Social distancing had been advised during these walks and meetings, and then they ceased all in-person activities when the government announced official lockdown measures.

When the announcement was made, I was filled with dread and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. I believed I would not be able to cope mentally nor maintain my recovery if I were not able to connect with Recovery Community Members and fellowship friends. I began to dwell on everything I could not do and what I would lose during this time. I was upset about not being able to visit my grandparents and cried over the fact that I would miss out on precious time with them. The realisation set in that my partner would not be able to see his son for some time too, and this broke my heart and added to my anxieties. All I seemed to do in the first few days following the official lockdown announcement was panic and focus on negative thoughts relating to my routine, my family, and my partner too.

I struggled to remind myself of what I had in my life to be grateful for and I dwelled on the fact that I could not physically see or be with my grandparents, stepson, or recovery buddies. However, I could FaceTime and video call them, and I was able to stay in contact via Facebook Messenger, texts, and phone calls too. It took me a week or two to comes to terms with this ‘new normal’ and I found it hard to accept this change forced upon everyone in the UK. I struggled to sleep, I was overly emotional and had a hard time finding a routine. All I wanted to do was cry.

My change in behaviour was noticed by my family too. I started to think that my mum and gran were becoming increasingly concerned for me as they started phoning and texting more often and told me not to give up and to make sure I got out once a day for fresh air and exercise. After days of sleepless nights and feeling there was no hope, my attitude and outlook finally began to change.

Within a matter of days, I began reaching to people in my Recovery Community via group chats set up by staff for volunteers and community members. I joined NA group chats with my home groups and even offered to host Zoom fellowship meetings. I knew if I did service and hosted the meetings, it would force me to go and stay connected within the fellowship. Doing any kind of service doesn’t just help me but others to! However, I struggled to properly engage with the Zoom sessions, the change from the normal face-to-face café style settings was drastic and I really struggled to connect. I was used to physically doing things in my volunteering role and sitting behind a screen filled me with a lot of anxiety and I felt I was unable to give anything to FVRC at this time. Having been diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and still being at quite an early in my recovery from addiction, I found it hard to adjust with any kind of change, and lockdown had brought an immense change I was not prepared for. Looking back now, I struggled to admit just how difficult I found it to cope and felt unable to truly connect and engage with anyone.

Meanwhile, Shumela at Resilience Learning Partnership (RLP) had come up with the idea of creating Craft Boxes for the children of Clackmannanshire and beyond. This triggered something positive in me. I immediately saw it as an opportunity for me to become proactive in this uncertain time and I could again be physically involved in a project, helping me feel more productive! I let Shumela know that I loved her idea and that I was keen to get involved while working from home. Shumela soon dropped 50 boxes and all their contents at my doorstep and I was ready to begin making a difference in my local community.

My partner, Matt, and I started work right away on sorting the craft supplies into the 50 boxes and we had them ready to be delivered in no time at all. Helping to produce these boxes helped to build my confidence again, I began to take pride in what I was doing! I felt that I really connected with the small team of RLP staff and volunteers, I had a new purpose of working with these people to make the craft boxes a reality.

I began connecting via chat and the odd zoom meeting with FVRC and my friends and family again, I was sleeping normally and no longer wallowing in self-pity and dwelling on the negatives that the lockdown had caused. I remained committed to my home group service with NA, hosting zoom meetings and was able to pick up step work again and since have completed and shared three different steps in lockdown so far!

The Craft Boxes project began growing fast and it became impossible to work on it from home. The decision was made that those staff members and volunteers who were able to and felt comfortable would work out of the Resilience Learning partnership offices in Alloa. This was to allow us to increase our capacity and work more efficiently. Our small team always works hard to complete orders and requests while making sure to maintain social distancing and safe practice. Matt and I had grown passionate about the Craft Boxes project and began throwing ourselves into volunteering our time to this cause. Before long I found myself managing our small team and once funding become available, Shumela offered me a 12-hour post. I could not believe it; I hadn’t worked for almost five years and this part time post was a great achievement for me.

Being employed now by RLP meant I was able to manage my time more efficiently and I began to engage more with FVRC Zoom meetings at weekends, connecting again with friends and newcomers to the community. This meant so much to me. I felt I had regained my strength and confidence that I had lost as a result of lockdown. I could see the difference we were making at RLP to the children receiving our boxes, the media attention we received was a huge boost to our confidence and personally gave me a sense of pride and something to smile about again. Since the project began until the time of writing, our small team has managed to make and deliver 750 craft boxes to children of Clackmannanshire and beyond. What an achievement! We have now secured additional funding and are in the process of ordering materials for three different boxes for teenagers, the elderly and single people living alone in these difficult times. I am ever so grateful to be part of the RLP team and this project, they have helped me regain not just confidence but maintain my recovery, given me purpose and form a routine again.

Pictured: Jamie Lee (Author of ‘My Recovery in Lockdown’)

On Saturday 9th of May of this year, I celebrated ONE YEAR IN RECOVERY FROM ACTIVE ADDICTION!!!

I had planned with my sponsor and home group members to celebrate in style with a curry karaoke night or spending the day doing outdoor activities such as Go Ape. However, due to Covid-19, this was no longer possible. However, lockdown did not take away the fact I had reached this amazing milestone, it just meant that I could not celebrate with my recovery friends and family in person. But I was not about to let that stop me from feeling grateful for what I have today and feeling pride in my achievement. I woke to cards and gifts from my partner, family and close friend and their words of encouragement had me overwhelmed with gratitude and pride. I was overcome with emotions and cried tears of happiness for once. I spent the day receiving kind messages and phone calls from FVRC members, staff, and fellowship friends. Matt made sure I was able to relax, fixing me a nice bubble bath and even made sure I had a face mask to help me unwind, all before treating me to a takeaway. I rounded up my Clean Time Birthday by sharing my experience, strength and hope at my home group that evening with my mum and friend of almost 20 years present. My group members surprised me with a banner, balloons and candles via our zoom meeting and I was blown away with these kind gestures.

In these difficult times I have not always found it easy to deal with lockdown, and in the beginning, I found myself feeling lost with little hope for the future. Thanks to my resilience and strength and support from everyone at FVRC, NA, RLP, family and friends, I have been able to regain purpose, confidence, become connected and in a much better place to manage my anxieties and emotions. I now have a part time job while lockdown is in place and celebrated One Year in Recovery! Dreams really can come true if you are willing to persevere and work towards your goals!

Crafty Kids Survival Boxes

Shumela Ahmed (Managing Director of Resilience Learning Partnership) writes about their new Crafty Kids initiative which has come to life in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 hit Scotland, and lockdown provisions were being put in place nationwide, we had to think about what we would do as an organisation to continue throughout the crisis. As we were making plans at an organisational level to work and coordinate from home, we were also dealing with the fact that some of us would be working from home with children present. As we brought home office supplies and materials to do our own work with, we also brought home some supplies for our own children. These consisted of the basic craft items such as coloured paper and card, glitter, glue and everything else in between (we are keen crafters and these are essential items in our office!).

This then led us to some interesting conversations with parents we are engaging with who did not have the resources we had taken for granted and brought home from our office to keep our own kids busy with during lockdown. Likewise, they also did not have the money to run out and buy these resources either.

So, we took some of our resources to some of the parents we were engaging with, so that their children now had the same as our own did at home. As we were doing this a light bulb moment happened… We realised that we could be doing this for more than the families and young people we are engaging with and thus the RLP Crafty Kids initiative was born.

The Crafty Kids Survival Boxes include a range of crafting materials, including colouring pencils, paper, glitter, glue… Plenty to keep kids busy!

We could not have anticipated the support the boxes have received, and we now have enough funding in place to guarantee there will be at least 1000+ boxes delivered within the next month. We have secured funding for these boxes with all of the funds we have secured going directly to providing the boxes for children and young people across Central Scotland. We will continue to seek funding throughout lockdown to ensure we can keep making this difference however, if you would like to donate towards a box or two you can give a donation below. We understand these are unprecedented times and that many people are struggling and so understand if this is not possible. If you can make a donation then we would like to say THANK YOU in advance and that your donation really is making a difference in children and young people’s lives right now. Make sure you check out our Facebook Page to see the impact of the boxes across Scotland.

The RLP Team have been delivering Survival Boxes to kids across Central Scotland.

We are also considering taking the boxes to other groups of people who are particularly vulnerable during lockdown such as over 65’s and males under the age of 45, an age group who is at particularly high of suicide. Please do get in touch and let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions on other groups we could get boxes to.

If you would like to make a donation to our Crafty Kids Survival Box project, then please use our donation button below. Alternatively, if you like to donate some arts and crafts supplies to our project, please contact us direct!

Recovery in Clackmannanshire

Resilience Learning Partnership Trainee and ‘Health & Wellbeing at The Hard Edges’ Project Participant , Jamie McMillan, wrote this great article on finding help with recovery in Clackmannanshire.

Are you contemplating finding recovery from your alcohol or drug addiction but don’t know where to start? Tried to stop using alcohol and/or drugs in the past on your own and haven’t been able to maintain sobriety/abstinence? First things first, you should know your Rights In Recovery!

Rights, Respect and Recovery – The Scottish Government (2018)
Rights, Respect and Recovery: Action Plan – The Scottish Government (2019)

Within the above downloadable documents you will find what your rights are and how the Scottish Government hope to implement these rights into action now and in the future, by 31st March 2021. Here is quick summary of their Vision…

Scotland is a country where “we live long, healthy and active lives regardless of where we come from” and where individual, families and communities:

  • have the right to health and life free from the harms of alcohol and drugs
  • are treated with dignity and respect
  • are fully supported within communities to find their own type of recovery

And here is a brief summary of their proposed Action Plan:

The Action Plan is based around four Ministerial priorities which map on to the chapter headings within Rights, Respect and Recovery. These cover:

  1. Education, prevention and early intervention on alcohol and drugs
  2. A recovery orientated approach which reduces harms and prevents alcohol and drugs deaths
  3. A whole family approach on alcohol and drugs
  4. A public health approach to justice for alcohol and drugs

Now we’re a little more familiar with our rights when it comes to our recovery, where do we go to seek help and advice on becoming drug free?

Within Clackmannanshire there are multiple avenues we can choose to go down. If you’d prefer one-to-one support then Change Grow Live (CGL), based in Alloa, may be the organisation to help you. CGL also have offices within Stirling and Falkirk town centres for those within the Forth Valley seeking their services.

Change Grow Live Recovery Service – Forth Valley
Telephone: 0808 196 2188

For those who seek connection and mutual aid as part of their recovery then Forth Valley Recovery Community cafes and activities may suit you better or work alongside one-to-one support. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to suspend their regular meetings and activities. However, they are now delivering their services digitally, through daily Zooms calls. You can find out more over on their Facebook Page.

Normally, FVRC are very active and have in-person cafe-style meetings, where people come together in a group setting, with the added bonus of some hot drinks and food. They also host SMART Recovery meetings, discussion and other activities, such as quizzes and table tennis. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training, these are mutual aid meetings where we help each other in recovery from many forms of addictive behaviour. The four main points focused on within a SMART Meeting are; Building and Maintaining Motivation, Coping with Urges, Managing Thoughts Feelings and Behaviours and Living a Balanced Life.

FVRC have a newly developed app which can be found and downloaded from Google Play Store and Apple App Store called Forth Valley Recovers. Within the app you can find; advice and information regarding you First Steps, Recovery, Alcohol and Drugs and a Recovery Plan as well as other Useful Info.

FVRC also offer other outdoor and indoor activities during the week out with the cafes, these include; Fitness Fridays at The Peak, Recovery in the Wild every second Sunday as well as other days throughout spring, summer and autumn and Recovery Ramblers three days a week in Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Falkirk areas throughout spring, summer and autumn. FVRC are keen to take on suggestions from community members regarding activities within the community and implement them where possible.

Fellowship meetings and the 12 Step Programme are another option when seeking recovery from addiction. Forth Valley hosts a multitude of Anonymous meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, times and places for which can be found with a quick google search.

Recovery within Clackmannanshire and Forth Valley is possible, and there are options out there for everyone seeking support and advice in this sector. It’s knowing where to find help and finding a place to start with your recovery that can be daunting, but I hope after reading this that you are able to take even just one step and help yourself find the support you need in order to take control and beat your drug/alcohol problems.

No one should have to suffer alone and reaching out to a service or attending a meeting is often the first step in what can be a fulfilling life, free of addiction. It is out there and waiting for you to take advantage of, here in Clackmannanshire and beyond!

This article was written on the 25th of February 2020. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, some support services have changed the delivery of their services. You can still access their services, however they may be slightly different than as described here.

Living with Strangers

This is an Opinion Article, written by Jade Anne Kilkenny (Community Justice Scotland Apprentice)

People in your life; parents, guardians, teachers and others give advice to make sure you are keeping yourself safe and that you understand the result of your actions. Sometimes people don’t realise the advice given can confuse children and how they experience life. Living in a chaotic lifestyle is normal for people who have never known anything else, it is comforting – because it’s what you know. How can you expect people to create a new life out of nothing they understand. What’s normal to you, might not be my normal – people should try and remember this when they think they know what’s ‘best’ for people.

As a child you are told not to talk to strangers, don’t go away with strangers and most importantly don’t go into a stranger’s house. I would have a stranger in my house every week, sometimes every day. It was not always the same person and most of the time they were dressed like they were going into a court room, but it was my family they were making judgements about. There is a time to be smart as people take you seriously, but not into people’s houses where this should be their place of comfort. Strangers in smart clothes don’t make me feel comfortable.

A stranger would explain to me why I had to leave my home and would take me in their car with my stuff in black bags, this made me feel like I was being kidnapped and there was nothing I could do about it. I’m still a child but I was made to feel like an adult, mature up, toughen up, no time for games anymore.

Moving house should be exciting – new adventures to explore. Never have I been so terrified in my life. I didn’t know where I was going or who’s house I would be living in. The Professionals around me are all trained to write reports on us, they have deadlines, they were always in such in a rush to move us into a place, but we don’t know if we will feel safe or if we will like the people there.

Do the children and young people get to decide who should be able to look after them and their siblings? What does a home and safety look like to children and young people? Who’s job is it to decide this and why don’t the children and young people get a say in this?

We are also taught as children lying is bad and if we lie, we are a horrible person. We as care experienced children are taught how to lie, we’re told that we can tell our new friends and new school that we are staying with family or we are there because it’s a holiday. We are told it will be better for us if we do this, often it ends badly with people disliking us and leaving us out because we are different and other kids recognise this.

Looking after someone’s child can be difficult for both the adult and the child.

The circumstances the child is living in might not be meeting all their needs. The hurt of losing everything you have known is the most overwhelming experience and you don’t know what you want to feel and how you should feel.

Sometimes the reason for being removed is not always clear, meaning the child or young person feels a sense of shame or guilt. Love doesn’t disappear because someone mistreats us, taking us away does not explain any of it, it just causes more pain.

You expect to be accepted into a new family home for who you are. This does not always happen. Some families expect you to fit into their way of doing things because you are a guest in someone’s house and are seen as an intruder. The biological children who live there might have not agreed to this and might find it difficult, which is understandable – a child is coming into their house uninvited by them, forced to be siblings and forced to live together. This is hard for those children and it’s hard for us, getting new temporary siblings even though we can’t see the siblings we grew up with.

In these new houses there can be disagreements and dynamics within the household causing the relationship to be inconsistent with some miscommunication. Sometimes the child has to be moved for different reasons and is not always someone’s fault, the child put there and the carers children are not always allowed to stay in touch which is just absurd. It is like getting used to a toy you don’t like and then taking it away just when you start to get comfortable with it – very confusing.

Can you imagine having to do this over and over again? How would it make you feel? They say you don’t get to choose your family, but you shouldn’t be flung into a new family just because your own isn’t capable.

Living in care is like being in the Truman show, everyone acting like everything is perfect.

Imagine using the toilet, every human does it, it’s done in private, it’s your personal business. Being in care makes you feel like you’re in a portaloo at a festival and someone just opened the door and everyone can see you, it’s not just your business, everyone can look in at you whenever they want and you can’t choose to close the door.

People in care have to experience this feeling on a daily basis. People talking about you like you’re not there, having everything set up for you down to the last detail of your clothes. Having your own personal typewriter everywhere you go, recording everything you say. If you act out in a way they don’t like there can be serious reactions from people you hardly know. It is a maze. It is confusing.

Staying the first night in someone’s house who lives miles away from where you’re from is overwhelming and scary. You are not told where your siblings and parents are or if they are even ok. Deep loneliness is a terrible feeling and is hard to shake off. Puberty is one of the toughest stages in life, it’s really hard when you are also living in a stranger’s house. The first year of high school can be quite daunting and scary especially not having a friend you know, never mind sleeping in someone’s bed that is not your own. This doesn’t look and feel like my room, will people come in at night hurt me, will I wake up and no one will be around. The feeling of not knowing is the longest night you will ever experience, watching the news the morning after as the world still goes on.

This is the home you stay in because it has been decided even though you don’t feel at home. Feeling the obligation to be overly polite and nice because this is not your home, this can be frustrating especially when you are missing people, when you’re a teenager and when you feel confused and angry… The sound of banging and annoyance in your ear is no longer there but you strangely miss being annoyed.