Volunteering policies – helpful of hindrance?


  This article

Volunteering and the concept of Social Capital

refers to a case study analysis of a ‘socially deprived community’ in the North West of England, carried out between 1999-2001 shows how volunteering can be crucial in the development of social capital for some members of the community but for others it presents exclusionary issues. 


Volunteering has many different benefits, in some situations it is seen to be the ‘altruistic’ movement that arises out of the need to support others in times of struggle. Offering your time to help others less fortunate to survive in the face of adversity, this can be broken down even further into two distinct categories. The first as a means of achieving personal goals, perhaps volunteering within an organisation with the motive of gaining employment, alternatively, it may also be a community based method to bond against a common cause that is destructive to the community and therefore offering your support and time would then be to benefit the entire community.
Another aspect of volunteering which seems to be becoming more and more prominent is the use of volunteers as a means of ensuring the survival of organisations under constant threat of closure in times of austerity. Either way it is quite a significant, and some might say imperative part of society on the whole, one that combines needs, wants and unity for the greater good.
Amongst socially excluded groups, the need for mutual aid has an extremely important role. Exclusion from society has many detrimental aspects to it, mortality, significant health issues, hunger, poverty, homelessness, educational issues, to mention but a few, many fuelled by propaganda, media’s misguided misrepresentation which then becomes fear of what is misunderstood. And, perhaps it’s just my glasses that are dirty but when you look at a large number of the more socially excluded groups, the initial reasons for being excluded are because there is an element of previously mentioned fear, lack of understanding and education, and primarily a ‘common difference’ that is evident in say, drug user communities, disabled communities, ethnic/cultural communities, LGBTQ communities, aging communities, etc. The majority are vulnerable due to the afore mentioned detrimental aspects, and, in some circles, blamed for the prevalence of those very same aspects, which in turn promotes further reason for exclusion, ironically instigated by the very same people who implement the lies and propaganda in the first place.
Areas where this form of culture, status and class ‘discrimination’ is most prevalent reflect low social capital, where there are high levels of isolation and a reluctance, or resistance, which transpires negatively resulting in community members being less likely to partake in social activities, or contribute to the economic growth of their surroundings, let alone have any value for political governance. Here is where mutual aid can and does flourish, almost naturally, as if it were, a deeply engrained, human instinct to unite against a common threat and protect each other against further detrimental effects from external sources. Regardless of how this manifests in the community, protests, drug use, violence, crime, the majority of reactions can be whittled down to fear. Fear of further discrimination, fear of lack of support in health matters, hunger, homelessness, higher mortality rates. Fear of further punishment over their reaction to the degradation and ostracised nature of their community. And the more fearful the community become, the more extreme the reactions, and the more isolated they become. Until you are left with a community that has no prospects, no funding, and all relevant support services withdrawn through ‘lack of funding’ due to false economic claims and austerity measures.
Social inequalities in this scenario have increased fatalities, crime statistics, drug use, homelessness, etc, and the answer from our governing bodies and currently non-elected leader is to impose further sanctions, reduce funding, resulting in the closure of support services and build Mega-prisons to punish those who defiantly stand up for their rights, and the rights of others. (I believe In America there is the same principle but they call them FEMA camps) How sad is it that the defence of basic human rights is now a crime. How did we ever let it get to this?


A second model that is quite common is the professional who volunteers their time to offer some form of support, for those less fortunate than themselves. The ‘altruistic do-gooders’ who feel they have a moral obligation to support their fellow human beings in times of distress and adversity. Those, quite possibly, unaffected, or minimally affected, by the social inequalities, but who still have a conscience that compels them to offer their time and support to others. This is, on the surface, a humane and much appreciated approach to providing a plaster that partially stems the flow of life from a gaping wound.
The government openly supported this form of volunteering as part of the big society project by stating that those who in stable employment who were of the nature to offer their time in support would be allowed three days out of their normal work regime to carry out volunteer work in the community. But there is a catch with this kind of volunteering, highlighted in the article….

“An understanding of formal volunteering requires an appreciation of the informal social networking processes going on in the local community”

At risk of seeming partially objective to the volunteers that fit into this form of volunteering I would dare to say that someone who is in employment, healthy, and to a degree secure will not, with sufficient depth or weight, relate to the hardships encountered by those they seek to support. One particular aspect of this volunteering I find unfavourable is the university student who as part of their curriculum seeks a placement in the community to better understand the complexities that are a huge part of their subject matter. Like the law student who might volunteer in a drop-in service with a high prevalence of individuals who have, or still do, commit crime, or possibly an agency primarily supporting children excluded from school for being unruly. The negative impact of this form of volunteering might be that an individual might warm to the attention mistaking it for real concern and, as a result, gain a false hope only to be once again ‘let down’ when the student returns to full time education. This can be detrimental to those who are being ‘studied’ by those studying. Affecting trust, confidence, self-esteem. Personal value and personal security. However, it does have fantastic personal growth potential and adds to the security of a more fortunate future for the student.


This form of volunteering is one that has become quite prominent in addiction circles, where those fortunate to achieve ‘full’ recovery, as part of an amends process, or, as a step towards gaining employment in the field of addiction, remain in the safety bubble of the support network where they found their recovery to give freely of their time to help others through the turmoil of chaotic addiction. This form of volunteering has numerous benefits, and almost as many risks. For many, the concept of giving back toy a society that did nothing but take, quite possibly creating the whole scenario that resulted in your seeking support and guidance in the first place, can be a bitter pill to swallow, one which is eased down the throat by the ever
supportive councillor who crushes down the pill and lubricates the throat by stating that it is part of your program to learn patience, tolerance, forgiveness and accountability.  Well placed guilt trip put heavily on the shoulders of the still fresh and vulnerable recoveree, and, this also, coincidentally, expands the scope for delegating the workload to enable the providers to gain a more realistic possibility of achieving all the key performance indicators set out by commissioners, which they promised to achieve in their tender bid, for a ridiculously low amount of funding. These outcomes quite possibly would be otherwise unachievable without the use of volunteers.
So, realistically, and quite negatively, speaking, volunteers are, in this aspect, quite an imperative part of the overall success of the provider, just as much as the provider may have been an imperative part of the overall success of the individual. This importance and use of volunteers in this process has the added curveball of being equally beneficial to the individual.  Volunteering improves confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, dignity, and empowers people to move forward with a new lease of life, supported by the increased presence of all the afore mentioned skills and attributes promoting a more sustainable recovery journey and making long term success more attainable. Its almost like a ‘fluffy cloud’ form of aftercare.
Another supposed benefit of this volunteering model is that it disciplines you in preparation for the real world, learning skills such as time keeping, team dynamics, routine, etc.
But, there is a downside to this, that goes against the grain, quite drastically, delaying ‘full’ recovery.


Volunteer rights lays out the governments guide to your rights when volunteering. Which are quite basic, not compulsory, and as usual with governmental documents wide open to interpretation. It is flimsy and lays out what you can expect, but is not obligatory and quite often is not honoured by numerous organisations quick to use your services and free time. The level of supervision is normally quite low and if involved in the running of needle exchanges, or similar services within services then there is also the question of clinical supervision. Any training must be relative to the volunteer role, which doesn’t, in my opinion, support the final breakaway into mainstream society, restricting the scope for moving on, and perhaps in some cases delaying the moving on of some people. Although you should be covered by the companies public liability insurance, my experience tells me that this is quite often not the case, in fact, everyday staff are not always covered by this insurance, especially where nonmedical prescribing is concerned, have you checked? And, despite the importance of your valuable time and effort, you are not entitled to any kind of volunteer payments this is more protective of the companies rights and legal situation than it is of your rights and legal situation, which, it has already been established are practically non-existent.
Any payment given for volunteering can be mistaken as a form of contract for services rendered. This in turn blurs the lines should there be a tribunal for any reason. This non-payment clause, expands into any misleading promises or hints that you are working towards any possible employment, or paid work with the company in the future. Something I was lead to believe when I was volunteering was that I was working towards employment, an added bonus, but not why I was volunteering. I might not have stayed as long in the same place, if I’m totally honest, but, the fact I was called a peer supporter rather than a volunteer, effectively
meant I was still classed as a service user, somehow. It took me two years of passionate, uncompromising support to uncover that little gem. All in the title!
So, considering this do the benefits of volunteering actually help or hinder the early stages of an individual’s recovery journey?

A final question which expands on the ‘title’ scenario which although something you may not consider huge, actually makes quite difference, would it make any difference to make a ‘donation’ rather than a payment? A loophole that worked around the legalities of entry fees to support the illegal rave scene. Donations towards future free parties was not illegal whereas payment for entry was.

 Any feedback on this topic would be much appreciated.

Do you have personal experience of volunteering?

  Are you a volunteer manager and have found a way round policy of payment?

How do you show your respect and value for your volunteers?


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Naloxone: The Next Episode

“1996, when Dan Bigg first brought the case for community use of Naloxone, and the wider need for this medication in the user community. Overdose, a primary cause of death among those who use opioid pain medications, illicit substances, etc has been known to be a risk that can be dramatically reduced by Naloxone since 1961 when first cited. As with needle exchange, and indeed many other campaigns where the basis was firmly in the realm of public health but not commercially acceptable, if you like. drug-war politics introduced a number of hurdles which meant delays in reaching a decision—and many needless, preventable fatalities. The User / Recovering community needs to shout louder and be more forceful in its advocacy so this is appropriately approached and adequately distributed within our communities”


Since the start of this campaign, when HIV and HCV were also an imminent risk to the user community things have moved forward dramatically, HIV and HCV are not only treatable but amenable to numerous prevention campaigns. New HIV infections among drug users have been cut in half in the last decade, largely due to the inception of harm reduction programs and approaches such as needle exchange programs, along with effective support, education and direction from peers, and peer led NGO’s such as INPUD (International Network of People who Use Drugs) to name one, whose priority was to reduce the risks associated with BBV route transmission, health risks, etc to reduce the risks of further harm and fatality in the user community, thus reducing the risk of spreading in to the wider community.

In 2016, we have now moved into an era where there is in fact a cure now available for HCV, unfortunately those that need it most may not be able to access it due to the extortionate costs as Gilead join the opposition in the drug war extorting the most vulnerable. So in general this shows that there can be positive outcomes, if we can just overcome the greed of big pharma, and other drug war barriers, when there is a platform where we can effectively work together, the the numerous campaigns and actions of relentless peer support groups and individuals have had an amazing impact on this.

On the subject of the high price of HCV cure a court case has just been launched in USA where a legal battle has erupted over a medicaid service provider refusing to prescribe HCV medication to two Apple Health patients based on the fact it is too expensive and only to be prescribed in special circumstances, these special circumstances seem to find their basis in financial groundings. The case is based on the fact that it is technically illegal to withhold medicines on the basis of cost. And to do so would therefore be negligent by default.


So onto the case for Naloxone globally, why are we still seeing marked resistance to the wider distribution of this life saving medication. Why have we not seen similar improvements here? Nationally I am very lucky to have been in a position to see this campaign take shape and launch itself with some of the most dedicated and passionate individuals I have ever met at it’s very core keeping it’s presence on the agenda in every region. As a result of this push from the community and our supporters we have managed to get Naloxone availability reviewed and as a result new legislation promoting wider access went live on October 1st, 2015. This was an amazing step forward and campaigners were more than appreciative of the recognition of our plights that our community members were dying needlessly in record numbers, we took the changes, we analysed them, we got legal reps to analyse them and we scrutinised every word of the amendment to the medicines act, which can be found here,

Amendment to Human Medicines act (no. 3) Regulation 2015 

This stated that any provider or….

‘persons employed or engaged in the provision of drug treatment services provided by, on behalf of or under arrangements made by one of the following bodies–

(a) an NHS body; (b) a local authority; (c) Public Health England; or (d) Public Health Agency.

The explanatory note that accompanied the amendments which are in legal talk and hard to follow for the typical lay person like myself can be found here….

Explanatory Memorandum

In this it again clearly states that ‘Regulation 10 amends Schedule 17 to the 2012 Regulations to enable the prescription only medicine naloxone hydrochloride to be supplied by drug treatment services for the purpose of saving life in an emergency

And just to make sure I’m not missing anything out. The explanatory memorandum that accompanied the correspondance e-mails and messages is here in full pdf….

Full Exlanatory Memorandom (pdf)

Very clear and precise in it’s aims and objectives. And to make it even clearer in it’s aims and objectives, here is a little snippet from the ADHP Position Statement on Naloxone

The Public Health England guidance published to inform commissioners about the impact of naloxone and the new regulations, makes clear that the legislative change that came into force in October 2015 means that, similar to Water for Injections, naloxone is exempt from prescription only medicine requirements when it is supplied by a drug service commissioned by a local authority or NHS (or Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland or Public Health England). It may then be supplied to any individual needing access to naloxone, which could be:
someone who is using or has previously used opiates (illicit or prescribed) and is at potential risk of overdose
a carer, family member or friend liable to be on hand in case of overdose
a named individual in a hostel (or other facility where drug users gather and might be at risk of overdose), which could be a manager or other staff.
Now we can respectively look at the impact the amendment has had so far. There are still at least one third of the 152 Health and wellbeing boards that have shown no change and no signs of change. Which is unacceptable and once the information has been collated and verified as to where they are exactly there will more likely be another media campaign launched in each respective local area. Up until now the majority of campaigners have for the most part refrained from directly mentioning specific services when raising issues at national level, it has been entirely focused on legislation and initiating changes from the top down with numbers of activists on the ground preparing their communities by training and raising awareness of the campaign in general, the real advocates for change and without a doubt the real heroes of the frontline movement, My hat goes of to you guys and I have nothing but respect for every one of you. You all know who you are. Kudos.

But I believe the next stage will be more upfront and personal. The bottom line is that the individuals that providers are in charge of under their primary care are dying, statistics are rapidly rising at an alarming rate and you have the green light to do something about it, but choose not to. As I see it you should not be in the sector professing to be something you are not. It’s time to start relegating services and showing support for those who openly show compassion and understanding and really do care whether their clientelle / stakeholders live or die. It seems to be forgotten who actually is in the position of power here despite the fact the title gives it away….service providers. Providing a service that should be fit for purpose and designed with the needs and wants of the customer first, not agenda. If a service is performing badly it reflects in the actions and feedback of those who access it and if that feedback is correctly placed and consistent, then it has to have an effect on the future survival of that service.

IN the remaining two thirds there is a varied level of acceptance around the legislation and how it has been adopted. The more common report that is coming through is that the majority of providers have adopted the program and are handing out kits to their service users. Which is good but takes us back to the original amendment to legislation in 2005 where it was recognised that there was a glitch in the law, in that there was no point providing a kit that was illegal to use for anyone except the one whose name was on the prescription. This was amended to read that it could be used by anyone for the purpose of saving a life. This meant as time progressed and the law fell into place that when the current campaign came about we had the added bonus of this little clause that basically gave right of way to anyone who had a vested interest in saving lives and who might find themselves in an overdose situation, which could mean absolutely anyone with an ounce of compassion. So given the progress in the battle for Naloxone and the background leading up until now surely the 2005 amendment and the more recent 2015 amendment together in their aims would mean that anyone can present at the door of a provider where naloxone is available and either present a certificate stating that they have been trained by a recognised trainer or be trained by a recognised trainer inhouse and walk away with a life saving kit…..

Surely?                                                                   No?                                                              Why not?

Is it cost again that is rearing it’s ugly head, so let me take you back to the current court case where it is being fought that this is against human rights and discriminatory, so what if the court judges in favour of the case, and campaigners or even more pertinent Parents who have lost children or similar bring out a case here on the same basis…..just a thought.

Here’s an interesting little section of law that I have been finding interesting in it’s content and context. It’s an area known as tort law and it basically states this…

Image result for negligence

(Elements: Duty, Breach, Causation, Scope of Liability, Damages)

Duty of care

1.General Duty of Reasonable Care.

a. Imposed on all persons not to place others at foreseeable risk of harm through conduct
b. Adults Reasonable person standard (objective)
c.Children Child standard of care i.Same age, experience, and intelligence
d. Physically disabled persons reasonable person with same abilities

2. General Duty

a. Duty to act reasonably to protect persons you may come in contact with if you have:

1. Knowledge of probable danger arising.
2. Knowledge that danger may affect others other than specific individual.
3. Proximity or remoteness of the outcome is a factor to consider (scope of liability is expanded and knowledge pertaining to scope of liability)

Limited Duty Rules

a. No duty to assist, act, or rescue
1. Misfeasance – where you’ve caused harm through your actions
2. Special Relationship (special dependency, working relationships, business relationships)
3. Voluntary Assumption of duty
a. Must rescue in a reasonable manner
b. If have special skill set, standard of care is reasonable person with the same skills
c. If ∆ is negligence places good Samaritan rescuer in harm’s way, ∆ is also liable to rescuer
4. Innocent prior conduct – (Misfeasance)
a. Duty to act to prevent the harm from occurring
b. Duty to assist if harm does occur
5. Reliance on a gratuitous promise
6. Intentional prevention of aid by others
7. Statute

or another more understandable definition might be…..

“A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. “ The behaviour usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty of care.


The House of Lords decided to create a new principle of law that stated everyone has a duty of care to their neighbour, which thereby supports this particular situation. Negligence is a form of tort which evolved because some types of loss or damage occur between parties that have no contract between them, and therefore there is nothing for one party to sue the other over.

Image result for negligence

And so goes the case for Naloxone provision without restriction of access or conditional supply only.

And there I rest my case……for now.

In you have any Naloxone stories you’d like to share please send them to ….


I’d love to hear from you.

Also If you would like to share your testimony….







Warrior down projects operate in an unusual environment of being both service provider and host of an emerging recovery community and this dual responsibility requires careful management, not least in maintaining appropriate boundaries in how we respond to a ‘warrior down’ or a  request for help from a significant other. It’s not our place as a provider to outreach someone who hasn’t asked for help, but as a recovery community we can adopt the ‘warrior down’ approach to reach out into the community and provide assertive support.

What do I mean by this? Adopted from a peer-to-peer programme originally designed to provide support and community referrals for Native Americans in recovery, ‘warrior down’ is the cry to signify that a warrior has been wounded or incapacitated and needs help. The warrior down initiative creates a response team to provide support and finds the resources to get that person back into their recovery process.

Recovery isn’t just staying sober – it’s a way of experiencing life through new eyes, new  thoughts, and a new spirit. Re-establishing one’s life following treatment for alcohol or substance abuse or incarceration requires a community effort. Without the support of a knowledgeable family and community, many who try to return to healthy, productive lives find themselves frustrated by the need for a job, training, education, housing, mental health care, medical support or connections with others who value sobriety and healthy behaviours.

Throughout the evolution of the UK recovery movement there has been close liaison with colleagues and friends in the USA, and it was in 2011 that Phil Valentine came to the UK and told us about the White Bison Warrior Down Program. The whole warrior down ethos and philosophy had an immediate resonance to those in recovery communities in the north of England, where small but influential groups of addicts have come together to create abstinence-based recovery communities.

They have done this most obviously in NA and AA – many got there via prison or simply stopped taking methadone and dropped out of treatment. It’s very rare to find people in abstinence-based recovery who got there via community methadone treatment and, similarly, the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous have facilitated peoples’ recovery and been the driver for them to reach out to those who are still in battle.

Given the numbers of people entering recovery it was only a matter of time before people started to relapse, and we asked ourselves how we should respond. This really is brand new territory. Treatment professionals are not used to assertively reaching out to people who relapse – people in 12-step fellowships may respond with comments like ‘God or drink and drugs will bring them back – one way or the other’, but neither standard treatment assertive outreach or benign 12-step fellowship felt like the right thing to do.

The people who had relapsed had become our friends and allies. They were almost family, and you don’t leave one of your own out there on the battlefield, in the madness of addiction, to die. You go and get them and do everything you can to get that warrior back into their recovery process.

Warrior down response teams are driven by ethical governance as opposed to clinical governance, and they work across geographical boundaries. Recovery communities have been utilising this approach for years. The approach is made up of informal coalitions of work colleagues, treatment professionals, friends and family members, as well as those supporting family members like Loved Ones Unite and Al-anon, faith-based group members and peers in recovery. They operate inside the recovery system, but outside of the treatment system. They respond to anyone who is in need, at any stage of their journey.

Many recovery slogans and clichés have become part of people’s lived reality. People in recovery know that ‘you alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone’, because they have tried it on their own and failed time and time again. They know that ‘I can’t but we can’, they have been that addict or that alcoholic who has sat on their own thinking about recovery while ordering two bags of brown and one of white. Then there is the addict whose thinking turns to drinking: ‘I’ve never really had a problem with alcohol, it was just gear and crack – I’m sure I’ll be OK having a drink.’ These experiences prove that an addict on their own is indeed behind enemy lines – rhetoric soon becomes reality when you realise that we really are in this together.


PURPOSE: The Warrior down program is set out to provide a relapse prevention and recovery support group for peers who are completing treatment and returning to their community after a period of addiction or incarceration.. It is also set up to provide support for those already on that journey who may be struggling with life on life’s. The principles are based in the altruistic movement that is evident within already established recovery communities and the core value is the therapeutic value of one addict supporting another on their respective journeys. This program has been adopted, quite successfully, by recovery communities up and down the country, peer support groups and recovery champions.

WHAT IS WARRIOR DOWN: Warrior down is the cry used to signify that a warrior has been wounded or incapacitated in some way and needs help. The warrior down program creates a response team that provides the support and finds resources to get that warrior back into the recovery process. This is a peer to peer program that is designed to equip individuals with recovery support and community integration techniques to support a sustainable and successful recovery journey that accepts relapse as part of that journey and puts protocol in place to support that part of the recovery journey. Recovery is not just about staying sober or drug free. It’s about seeing life through new eyes, new thoughts, and a new spirit. Re-establishing ones life following the absence of substances or following a period of incarceration requires a community effort. Without support from a strong knowledgeable social network, peers, family, professionals, etc. Many who try to return to healthy, productive lives find themselves frustrated by the need for employment, training, education, housing, transport, mena tal health care, medical health care, social services, spiritual and cultural support or connections. A positive connection with a like minded individuals, who value their new found way of life,  within the community, who has bee n through the stages of recovery can make all the difference and show that recovery is possible and achievable.

CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL SUPPORT FOR RECOVERY AND  RE-INTEGRATION:  The original warrior down program has its origins in the Native American culture and some of the principles are deeply spiritual and cultural in  practice. Original healing process  included healing circles and traditional ceremonies. Ceremonial activities have a distinctly spiritual focus, and the incorporation of intergenerational activities that include both elders and children. The involvement of family and significant others in the process is an integral and important part of the process. It is recognised as being essential for the well-being of all involved in the process, which inevitably has an effect in the overall community around those involved in the re-integration process. The teachings of the Elders and the Clan mothers provided wisdom and quidance. Unfortunately some of those that we come in contact with have no family support or significant others in their lives  for numerous reasons and this can be a major barrier to re-integration in some areas. Those who are isolated in this way may benefit from having a mentor, guide, or sponsor as such to provide the same guidance and wisdom around issues that may seem daunting and overwhelming to an individual at any given stage of their recovery journey. Th spiritual pathways provide meaning and purpose but again are a misunderstood concept in that they are not religious in content but can be seen to be in their delivery in certain mutual aid environments. A spiritual act is simply an act done in support of a fellow warrior, such as going for a coffee, meeting up for a chat, helping someone across the road. Cultural activities create a social and emotional foundation for reconnecting and re-establishing a sense of belonging and identity. Most individuals who are on the recovery journey are driven by a spiritual ‘need’ to help others and have a desire to share their journeys with other recovering individuals or those that have that same desire for change. This promotes and empowers re-integration into the community and supports the individual to sustain a balanced emotional, mental, physical and spiritual  wellbeing throughout their journey.






(medicine wheel and possible 12 step curriculum)


The 12 step recovery program is specifically designed to meet the spiritual and cultural needs of member s of the community who are entering the recovery journey and also offers support for those on that journey. There is already a established community that has been successful for over 70 years. It has proven to be successful in its approach and is by far the most recognised mutual aid support network within our communities, however, this is not for everyone and there are other mutual aid options available to those who find the 12 step program is not for them. Of these other forms of mutual aid there is SMART Recovery which is another growing community nationally and is rapidly becoming known as  the ‘alternative’ to 12 step. THE SMART program is a peer led initiative that consists of a series of tools  that are based on tools used in CBT, MI and REBT counselling. The SMART program is a four point program that consists of…

 1: Enhancing and maintaining motivation to abstain.

 2: Coping with urges.

 3: Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours through effective problem solving.

 4: Balancing momentary and enduring satisfactions  to achieve lifestyle balance.

SMART Recovery is different in that it advocates choice and leaves the individual the freedom to choose what works best for them, providing a number of different options. SMART aims to support the individual towards achieving a balanced and healthy lifestyle and works towards a ‘graduation’ whereby the individual then moves into the recovery community. This is different from the 12 step principle in that the 12 step program advocates for lifelong membership and commitment. Some of the specific tools used in the SMART program include….

CHANGE PLAN WORKSHEET: This is a chart in which you list your goals and how you will attain them, the ways in which you will overcome obstacles and challenges, etc. The process of completing a change plan worksheet clarifies both your goals and the potential roadblocks to attaining them.

COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS: This tool is especially useful for increasing motivation to abstain from addictive behaviour.

THE ABC’s OF REBT: This tool from Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy, founded by Albert Ellis, helps to identify irrational beliefs, which in turn lead to poor consequences.

DISARM: Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method, This  tool exposes the thoughts and images which urge us to pursue our addiction as inaccuracies, excuses and rationalisations.

BRAINSTORMING: This technique is often used in face to face and online meetings. A participant introduces a question or problem. Other participants then offer ideas or suggestions without judgement.

ROLE PLAYING / REHEARSING: This tool is used mostly in group environment. An example of which could be….rehearsing how  to avoid addictive behaviour in a chosen situation where there is a high risk or medium risk. Group members would play various roles in the situation and play out the role.

Other possible forms of mutual aid that can be looked at and explored during the initial first phase are Therapeutic communities.. These are community approaches that are based on 14 key competencies highlighted by both David  Kressel and George De Leon.

Other more specialised approaches and ideas for group environment work could be fatherhood initiatives, parental guidance courses….etc..



Again the need for mutual aid is paramount within this setting and should by this time be established and instrumental in the next phase of development. By this time the individual should have a good idea of where they want to be and which form of mutual aid support best suits their needs….and wants to support them in their new setting. This of course may change as the individual moves on with their recovery and their understanding and needs and wants evolve. This phase of the recovery journey is facilitated by ‘firestarters’.  Firestarters are peers and recovery champions who are established in the community and available to support an individual through mentorship, coaching, sponsoring  and other various ways in which the recovery journey can be enhanced and supported.  Part of the Warrior down concept seeks to support an individual into securing housing, employment, benefit support, social support, emotional support, and general support with etc. and members of the response team should be well versed and trained in these. General  lifeskills and  everyday living skills.  There are a number of individuals in the community who are available to sponsor people and there  are also  a handful of individuals already available in the community who are in a position to support this  by means of a relatively new concept known as recovery coaching. A positive, empowering and innovative approach to supporting members of the community in sustaining their journeys.

RECOVERY COACHING: Recovery coaching  is a form of strengths-based support for persons with addictions or in recovery from alcohol, other drugs, codependency, or other addictive behaviors. Recovery coaches work with persons with active addictions as well as persons already in recovery. Recovery coaches are helpful for making decisions about what to do with your life and the part your addiction or recovery plays. Recovery coaches help clients find ways to stop addiction (abstinence), or reduce harm associated with addictive behaviors. Recovery coaches can help a client find resources for harm reduction, detox, treatment, family support and education, local or online support groups; or help a client create a change plan to recover on their own.

Recovery coaches do not offer primary treatment for addiction, do not diagnose, and are not associated with any particular method or means of recovery. Recovery coaches support any positive change, helping persons coming home from treatment to avoid relapse, build community support for recovery, or work on life goals not related to addiction such as relationships, work, education etc. Recovery coaching is action oriented with an emphasis on improving present life and reaching goals for the future.

Recovery coaching is unlike most therapy because coaches do not address the past, do not work to heal trauma, and there is little emphasis on feelings. Recovery coaches are unlike licensed addiction counselors in that coaches are non-clinical and do not diagnose or treat addiction or any mental health issues.

SPONSORSHIP: Sponsors are people who have worked through the Twelve Steps and are available to help others in their recovery. If you want to work the steps as outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, a sponsor can offer guidance based on their personal experience. However, it is important to mention that your recovery does not depend on having a sponsor. This program will take you on a personal spiritual path, and sponsors are merely messengers of the experience, strength, and hope that this program offers.

While the book Alcoholics Anonymous provides a description of how to work the Twelve Steps, a sponsor can offer specific assignments that help the process along. Moreover, a sponsor’s personal experience can assist us to confront problems, and move through them to change and growth.

You are ready to be sponsored when you have recognized a desperate need for help and a willingness to go to any lengths to recover. A prospective sponsor will suggest that you read the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and may make other suggestions for you to follow before you both decide whether to work together.

There are many benefits to being sponsored. Actively working with someone else offers you a chance to engage in a relationship based in honesty–an acquired skill for many of us with this illness. It is also an important venue to expose the illness and explore spiritual remedies. Usually we have blind spots. A sponsor who practices loving confrontation can help us break through these and gain a deeper self-understanding. Often people find that they are better able to help others because of the example provided by their own sponsor.

MENTORING: Mentorship is a personal development relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person through specific barriers that may arise during the recovery journey However, true mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge.

“Mentoring” is a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but its precise definition is elusive. One definition of the many that have been proposed, is….

Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital,, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less.

All of these together, and more, should be integral in the building and initiating of a warrior down response team and all have their own individual place within that team so that all avenues towards recovery are covered and all aspects of a fully inclusive recovery journey can be supported and maintained. All members of the recovery community Also members of the response team here would benefit massively from being involved in shadowing those in the professional capacity who specialise in potential barriers to recovery. ETE (Employment, Training, Education), Housing support, Benefits support, Debt management, etc. All resources should be looked at and made readily available to the community. This list will grow as the community grows. And ongoing training needs and support needs should be addressed and relevant training looked at in order to maintain a high level of support within the community.



Firestarters in local communities set up circles of recovery that are specifically designed to support those reintegrating into the community after a period of isolation, addiction, imprisonment..etc. This can cover a multitude of different aspects in an individuals recovery process and by this stage in the recovery journey those who have been introduced to this program will have become stable and secure in their recovery and in a position to carry their message to those who are beginning this journey. This in effect expands the support network and circle of recovering individuals to offer a wider and more supportive structure for supporting newcomers into the program. The nature of a therapeutic community is that the support of it’s members is never ending and not bound by any timescales. This support is ongoing and is always available to those who have come through the stages of the reintegration process and moved on successfully to become recognised and valued members of their community. Those who follow this process and successfully re-engage within their community can be a major inspiration to those walking into the program for the first time as are those walking into the program for the first time. Regular talks, discussions and events to bring members of the community together can be hosted to show that as members of an ever growing community recovery is possible and achievable. It really does work if you work it

FIRESTARTER TRAINING: This is designed to empower individuals to carry out all aspects of the Warrior down program. Suggested training could include Recovery coaching, sponsorship, mentor training, peer support training, Understanding the 12 steps, SMART recovery training, breaking free online training, boundaries and confidentiality, conflict resolution….the list is endless with regards to what training may be looked at and with the focus always  on the individual’s journey the requirements of the group and indeed the community will be an ever changing, ever evolving natural progression process. This training should be designed to promote all different aspects of a full recovery agenda so that all options are explored and all members are fully armed with the facts in order to give a full and comprehensive package to suit the needs and wants of those they would support and in turn to keep them focused on their own recovery.

To summarise the process:


 The first stage of the program is about finding your footing and the right pathway to suit you as an individual. Recovery is all about having choices and support in promoting those choices to enable a solid foundation on the journey you are about to embark on.


 The second stage is about finding yourself and clearing the wreckage of your past in order to look at different coping  mechanisms and strategies that would empower the early stages of your journey for a more positive and productive future.


 Stage three is about strengthening your relationship with others and building a social network around you of likeminded people who are supportive, non-judgemental and positive in their approach to the community environment.


 And finally stage four is about carrying this message and advocating for others by maintaining and continuing to move forward forging a path for others, leading by example. 


Planning and facilitating training requires a number of tasks that a number of people should share. Campaign organisers should be aware of when and what the relevant training should be at any given time in any given aspect of your progress as a group. The requirements of the group will be constantly changing and need to be regularily revisited to ensure that your group are fully armed with the current facts to support their campaign. Basic needs may include strategic campaign development, gender sensitivity,  policy updates and numerous other aspects connected to the cause. If you have a sub group running from your initial umberella group the umberella group could be very instrumental in making sure the needs of their subgroups are met at all times throughout the campaign, however this can not be sustained without regular and efficient training to keep the key group armed with the facts to pass down to their sub groups. Every group should always be open minded to new skills and progress. Training can be delivered by either trainers brought in specifically to meet the needs of the groups or by a designated and dedicated team of co-facilitators adept in the workings of the group and the aims and objectives of the group. Here is a check list to help organise, plan and facilitate training.


  1. Mkae sure that all organisers and trainers meet well in advance to plan the training and how to execute the training. Mkae sure that the training has been discussed within the group and meets the needs of the group, being based around the conscience of the groups requirements. Constant contact between all involved is a must ot make sure that all aspects of the groups needs are met fully and effeciently and vice versa. Some conversations between the trainers and the organisers may raise options that could be taken back to the group. This in itself can be a valuable and informative process.
  2. Work out your time scale and allow ample time to accomplish the goals of the training. include time for genaral feedback and questions from the floor. Training must be done in accordance with the groups progress and development. If there is a series of training needs to support thr campaign, check that these needs are specific and direct at teh end of each session by giving a brief overview of the next session and be prepared to adapt your training to meet the needs of the group feedback at the end of each ensuing session.
  3. Trainersbrought in from outside source need to do extensive research around the participants they will be delivering to as well as the subject matter of the nature of the training. Some things that may be covered here are the fundamental set up of the group, are they coming together for a one off event or are they an ongoing group of activists in longstanding activity. What level of experience do the group have individually and as a collective. What level of training has already been reached.
  4. Discussion around the groups ethos and directive and their chosen approach to training delivery should be done prior to any training and discussion around any quidelines that may already be in place should also be discussed. A good trainer facilitator will adapt to suit the needs and guidelines already in place.
  5. Campaign organisers should be present to deliver specific information at the training. Scenario plans, campaign backgrounds, etc. Be clear and direct around how much time should be dedicated to this task.
  6. Identify in advance what handouts are needed, and use evidence based resource material to support your training and delivery. make good use of all available assets and materials.
  7. Make your training as interactive as possible. People are more likely to rememeber an action rather than a talking to. Where relevant make it fun.
  8. Be clear as to who is bringing what to the training and make sure all who are involved are aware of their roles and responsibilites.
  9. Make sure your venue is adequate for your needs. Is there enough room to carry out your training effectively and efficiently. Enough room for for role play, excercises and any other relevant activities that you may be looking to incorporate into your session.


  1. Facilitators should be aware that it may take longer to prepare than to deliver. It is important that co-facilitators work together to build the agenda and are clear who is responsible for what and how they will work together.
  2. Be realistic about the ammount of time alloted for each section of the training. Don’t rush the training and make sure there is enough time to deliver and for those you are trianing to digest.
  3. Start with introductions and icebreakers, introductory excercises. If teh group members know each other well it might be an idea to ask a question that may help each member of the group to learn sonething new about each other.
  4. If you require more information about peoples experiences use a non-competitive way to ask. Set a tone, explaining that the trainers need the information but that it is not an excercise to see who is ‘better’ within the group.
  5. Early on in the training, set excercises that encourage group interaction and full participation.
  6. Always maintain a balance between individual, pair and full group participation.
  7. Find a comfortable balance between moving excercises and discussion. Ensuring regular breaks at regular intervals.
  8. It is sometimes a positive move to mark specific items in your training package that can be removed should you run into overtime due to an unforeseen circumstance.
  9. Always leave time for group evaluation and use different forms of evaluation. This could be done by writing on a wall chart, what went well? and gathering feedback from the floor. It could be accomplished by a series of questions designed to solicit comments, it could be brainstorming excercise. Written evaluation forms are handy if the training was a long session.
  10. If you are regularily delivering to the group, explain the next session anf training package and always be willing to adapt to the needs of the floor within reason to tweek up your training backage.