Ellie Lambert – Humankind

Renewed partnership between Barnsley Council and Humankind ensures ongoing support for people using drugs and alcohol

Ellie Lambert

Alcohol worker and service user

Two programmes that provide health, wellbeing and support services to people experiencing marginalisation are set to continue thanks to funding from Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

This month, it has been approved that Humankind will keep delivering the successful Barnsley Recovery Steps initiative which have provided drug and alcohol recovery support to more than 3,600 people since it launched in 2017.

The free and confidential service offers people support with physical or emotional or needs, runs group works and one-to-one sessions, and provides harm reduction options including testing for Hepatitis C.

The charity has also received funding to continue delivering Thrive, a programme which provides emergency accommodation and support to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, or struggling with their mental or physical health.

Jo Ekin, Senior Commissioning Manager at Barnsley Council, said “This is an exciting opportunity for Barnsley Council and Humankind to continue working together in partnership to continue to deliver this much-needed provision. We are keen to continue to develop innovative solutions for people and this decision allows us the opportunity to further build on the successes of the services.”

Emily Todd, Regional Director at Humankind, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue providing a high standard of support to people in Barnsley who use drugs and alcohol, or have additional health or housing needs. Since the service launched five years ago, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people completing their treatment and we are keen to keep building on this success and help more people.”

In addition to providing clinical treatment and recovery support, Barnsley Recovery Steps also offers education, training and employment opportunities, and helps connect people to other services.

Humankind also operates community housing locations in Barnsley, including longer term accommodation, and delivers Umbrella which is a mental health and counselling service.

New employment scheme helps get people back into work in Gateshead and South Tyneside

Ellie Lambert

People working together at a computer in an office

An initiative that matches potential job seekers with roles that suit their professional strengths and ambitions is already proving successful after just eight months.

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) programme, which is run by Humankind, is embedded into existing Gateshead and South Tyneside drug and alcohol treatment services and has helped 18 people to secure employment as part of their recovery from substance use.

Employment Specialists provide individually tailored support to help people find and choose the right job for them and stay in the role by continuing to work with both the employer and employee to ensure the placement lasts for as long as possible.

Speaking about the initiative, Jen Feckie, Lead Employment Specialist, said: “What makes IPS different is that we support our applicants at every step of the way, and we often find them jobs within a few weeks. We meet with people, help them develop their CV, prepare for interviews and continue to help them overcome any difficulties they may have once they’re in a role.

“We also work closely with employers to ensure that the applicants we put forward have the right skills and attitude for the roles, and we help them to understand the challenges of substance use and how to tailor job opportunities accordingly”, Jen added.

One such employer is Wallis Mews Care Home who has worked with the IPS team to recruit staff. Speaking about the process, Manager Lisa Gillis said: “I had several chats with Danielle from the IPS team about the kind of employee I was looking for. Experience and skills were not the most important thing to me, it was more important to find a person who was willing to learn, could offer flexible working and had a genuine passion for care. Danielle put forward a few suitable candidates and sent me across their CVs. I trusted her because I know she had a good understanding of our recruitment needs and more in-depth knowledge of the candidates.”

To date, 15 employers have recruited IPS applicants and have found that it’s reduced their recruitment time and costs, helped them find motivated employees who have the right skills and improved retention of staff.

Kate who secured work through IPS, described her experience: “Whilst working with my Employment Specialist, Adam, my confidence improved, and I could see myself returning to work. By using this support, I have now successfully gained full-time employment as a Procurement Purchaser. Adam believed in me from day one and I can’t thank him enough for the support and resources he has provided me with to enable me to achieve my employment goals. I am now feeling positive about my future both in my recovery but also in my career and I believe that gaining employment will have such a positive impact on my life”.

The IPS programme works with employers in a range of fields and is always keen to partner with more businesses and help them meet their recruitment needs.

If you are interested in working with IPS to recruit staff, email the IPS team or visit our IPS webpage.

More than a thousand people who use our services provide feedback on their experiences

Ellie Lambert

We recently asked people that use our services a series of questions to get their views so that we can make plans for the future. 

With an ever-changing external environment, including new money from the government, and the development of our new organisational strategy, we also wanted to know more about how people would like to use our services in future. 

The survey ran throughout April and we received over 1,900 responses from across the country. Here are some of the headline results: 

Speaking about the survey, Lead Director of Integration, Housing and Strategy, Liane Taylor said: “We’re really pleased with how many people were involved in our recent survey of people who use our services. It was a fantastic team effort with everyone getting behind the survey and promoting it within our services.

 “Together, our Regional Directors and Regional Working Together Leads will be taking the survey insights and turning them into visible action plans in each of our regions. These action plans are being developed and will be monitored in collaboration with people who use our services.  

This year, we asked some really important questions relating to the development of our future strategy. We’ll also asked questions that will inform how we model our services and specifically how we can engage and support women better”. 

We will be using these results to inform our future practice and will share more details of changes that we will be making soon. 

Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service rated Good by the Care Quality Commission

Ellie Lambert

People have a conversation as part of a group work session

Humankind’s substance use treatment and recovery service in Staffordshire has been rated Good across the board following its first inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service, which has hubs in Newcastle under Lyme, Stafford, Burton, Leek and Tamworth, was praised by CQC for providing safe care, treating clients with compassion and kindness, and offering a range of treatments.

The service, which provides free and confidential support to more than 3,450 adults each year, received the rating of Good following an inspection in March.

Speaking about the rating Emily Todd, Regional Director at Humankind, said:

“I am proud of the results of the recent CQC inspection in Staffordshire. It is the result of the hard work of the staff and management teams, who are passionate about improving the lives of the people we work with. Implementing a large new integrated treatment system at the height of the pandemic brought challenges, but the teams showed resilience to work through them, and this Good result across all five areas is the result of that commitment.”

In the inspection report, CQC particularly highlighted that:

  • Clients of the service felt in control of their own recovery and said that staff were helpful and supportive.
  • Staff completed comprehensive assessments with clients and supported them to live healthier lives.
  • The team had a range of skills, worked effectively together, and included, or had access to, specialists who could meet the needs of the clients.
  • Staff treated clients with dignity and respect, involved them in their care planning and, where consent had been given, involved clients’ families in their care.
  • The service offered met the needs of all clients and had a Complex Care team and hospital liaison to support people with additional needs.
  • Staff felt respected, supported and valued, and felt that the service promoted equality and diversity in its day-to-day work and in providing opportunities for career progression.
  • The service treated concerns and complaints seriously, investigated them and learned lessons from the results.

Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service (STARS) is commissioned by Staffordshire County Council and has been run by the charity Humankind since 2020. The inspection was the first one conducted at the service by CQC.

To find out more about STARS visit https://humankindcharity.org.uk/service/staffordshire-treatment-and-recovery-service.

The full CQC report can be viewed at https://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-9513382045.

Durham service rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission

Ellie Lambert

The County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service, operated by Humankind, has been rated as ‘Outstanding’ in recognition of the caring and supportive service it provides.

The service, which provides free and confidential support to more than 3,800 people each year, received the rating following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in February.

The service was determined to be outstanding overall and for being caring and responsive, and rated good for being safe, well-led and effective. The accolade of Outstanding is a big step forward for the service which had previously been rated as requires improvement overall.

Speaking about the rating Ted Haughey, Executive Director of Operations at Humankind, said:

“We are delighted to have received the CQC report for County Durham following the recent CQC inspection that has rated our service as outstanding. As an organisation Humankinds roots are from the North East and our Head Office is based in County Durham so it means a lot to us organisationally as well.

“We are very proud of the service and this rating is testament to the hard work, talent and dedication of the whole team across the county. The inspection gives us the external assurance about the quality of the service and we will continue to work closely with Durham County Council, wider stakeholders and people who use the service to develop the service further and increase the positive impact we have for individuals, their families and communities across County Durham.”

Brian Cranna, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said:

“When we inspected the service, we were extremely impressed. Leaders and staff were highly motivated and offered care that was kind and promoted people’s dignity. They worked hard with people to ensure they had a voice in the community and helped them to realise their potential.

“Feedback about the service was consistently positive. People and their families said the care they received was exceptional and that they were always involved in any decisions that could affect them.

CQC particularly praised:

  • The innovative approaches that were offered to meet the needs of a range of people who used the service, including the mobile public health facility which engages with people who live in rural areas.
  • The way that staff provided solutions that enable people to manage their own health and care when they could and to maintain independence as much as possible.
  • The fact that staff went the extra mile, and their care and support exceeded their expectations.
  • The positive culture that exists throughout the service with staff saying that they felt respected, supported and valued and proud to be part of the organisation’s future direction.

County Durham Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service is commissioned by Durham County Council and run in partnership with Spectrum Community Health CIC. The service has locations across the county, to find out more about it visit https://humankindcharity.org.uk/service/county-durham-drug-and-alcohol-recovery-service/.

The full CQC report can be viewed by clicking here.


Innovative dispensary launches to support people who use drugs

Ellie Lambert

Humankind have opened what is believed to be the UK’s first pharmacy technician-led community dispensary embedded within a specialist substance use treatment service.

The new dispensary, which is licensed by the Home Office and located within the Calderdale Recovery Steps drug and alcohol treatment service, will ensure that people can access the vital medication they need to help them manage their drug use.

The dispensary is run by Humankind, one of the UK’s drug and alcohol treatment providers, in partnership with The Basement Project and Calderdale Council.

Speaking about the dispensary, Calderdale Council’s Public Health Manager Niamh Cullen said: “For our most vulnerable and poorly service users it’s important we see them as often possible, build strong relationships with them and offer easy access to other health and recovery services onsite, in Calderdale we are really concerned about the number of premature deaths amongst those using drugs and alcohol in our communities”.

The new service is facilitated by registered pharmacy technicians and nurses with support from recovery staff. The staff are able to issue medication such as methadone and buprenorphine to help people manage and reduce their use of illicit substances.

Talking about the impact of the service, Roz Gittins, Director of Pharmacy at Humankind, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to offer another option for people who may otherwise remain at greater risk of drug related death. I’m really proud to see pharmacy technicians being able to use their skills in this way and hearing first hand from people the difference it’s already making.”

By integrating the dispensary into the service, Calderdale Recovery Steps hopes to remove some of the barriers that people who use drugs face when trying to access their medication, such as the cost and time of travelling to a pharmacy located far from their home.

The dispensary is a targeted service that anticipates working with approximately 20 of Calderdale Recovery Steps existing clients with the aim of providing intensive and holistic support that meets their additional needs.

Mark, who is receiving medication from the dispensary, is pleased to have the service, he said: “It’s much better coming here. Everything is in one place and I don’t have all the extra travel. I like the people and it makes a difference.”

To find out more about Calderdale Recovery Steps, visit http://calderdalerecoverysteps.org.uk/.

The road to recovery and World Records

Ellie Lambert

A Staffordshire man who was suicidal as a result of his drug and alcohol use is now set to attempt a World Record breaking 70 triathlons in 70 days to mark his recovery, and help raise money for Humankind in the process.

The challenge is the culmination of months of training by Andy Stone, 40, from Eccleshall, who previously used drugs and drank heavily for 15 years.

Starting on April 4, Stone will attempt to complete 70.3-mile triathlons on 70 consecutive days and set a World Record that no-one has achieved before.

Since he stopped using substances more than six-and-a-half years ago, Stone has undertaken 17 sprint triathlons and 35 Olympic triathlons distance but his ’70 in 70’ will be his greatest challenge yet.

Speaking about his incredible World Record attempt and recovery from substance use, Stone said: Becoming sober is one of my proudest achievements, I realised I had an addiction to alcohol and was determined to turn my life around. Completing 70 consecutive triathlons is going to be a huge physical and mental challenge but the self-development I went through when becoming sober will help as it taught me patience, acceptance and gratitude.”

Stone is using the challenge as an opportunity to raise funds for causes close to his heart including Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service (STARS), a drug and alcohol support service run by Humankind that helps approximately 2,000 people at any one time.

Paul Townsley, CEO of Humankind said: “We are in awe of the incredible challenge that Andy’s has undertaken and we are extremely grateful that he has chosen to raise money for STARS.

“Andy is a fantastic example that it is possible to recover from substance use, achieve new goals, and live a healthier and happier life. Everyone at Humankind will be cheering him on as he goes for the World Record.”

Prior to stopping using drugs and alcohol, Stone was drinking up to 12 pints a night, using cocaine and struggling with his mental health. With the support of his parents, friends and Alcoholics Anonymous, Stone gave up alcohol and drugs and switched to a healthy lifestyle including a plant-based diet and competing in Iron Mans.

Stone will complete his triathlons at different locations in Staffordshire, culminating on June 12 with the Ironman 70.3 that ends in Stafford’s Market Square.

In addition to supporting Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service, Stone is also raising money for Mind and Alcohol Change UK.

To sponsor Stone, click here and visit his JustGiving page.

To find out more about the challenge and how training is going, check out his Facebook  or Instagram pages.

Working together to Break the Bias

Ellie Lambert

Humankind is partnering with other sector leaders to advocate for improved treatment services for women

Eleven of the UK’s largest drug and alcohol recovery service providers have come together to form a Women’s Treatment Group to improve the treatment offer and successful outcomes for women seeking support.

The group, which is chaired by Humankind, is looking at the ways that services could be adapted to meet the needs of women, as well as advocating for dedicated funding for women’s services and the creation of a gender specific evidence base.

Over the last 10 years there has been a 76 per cent increase in the number of women dying as a result of drugs, compared to a 70 per cent rise in male deaths, yet the number of women seeking treatment has remained relatively static.

Speaking about the work, Karen Tyrell, Executive Director for Strategy, Culture and External Affairs at Humankind and Chair of the Women’s Treatment Group, said: “Sadly, many treatment services can be an intimidating place for women and do not address the specific needs and challenges faced by women. Humankind and many of our partners do offer some services specifically for women but there needs to be a nationwide approach to ensure that irrespective of treatment type or geography every woman can get the help that they need.

That is why we are calling on the Government to allocate a portion of the new strategy funding specifically on women’s services and research into substance use treatment for women so that we can build a greater understanding of the needs of women and the most effective solutions to address them”, Tyrell added.

Since being founded in December 2021, the group has already submitted a letter to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities outlining minimum provision that should exist in every service such as joint working with midwifery and local domestic abuse organisations, women-only spaces and funded provision of childcare for women accessing treatment.

The group has also responded to the Government’s proposed Commissioning Quality Standard consultation proposing that specialist women’s drug and alcohol provision is included in all commissioned service level agreements, that workforce competencies speak specifically to needs of women and that women’s lived experience is valued.

Going forward, the Group will be focused on working with parliamentarians to ensure understanding of the specific needs of women, as well as pushing for greater research into solutions that will make a difference.

The members of the Women’s Treatment Group are:

  • Bristol Drugs Project
  • Change Grow Live
  • Cranstoun
  • Changing Lives
  • Phoenix Futures
  • Trevi
  • Turning Point
  • WDP
  • With You
  • Working With Everyone

To find out more about the Women’s Treatment Group, visit https://www.collectivevoice.org.uk/womens-alcohol-and-drug-treatment/.


New drug, alcohol and sexual health service launches to support young people in Lewisham

Ellie Lambert

Three young people use laptops

Insight Lewisham, a free and confidential service that will provide advice and help to young people who are impacted by or living with drug and alcohol issues or require support around sexual health and relationships, is set to open this month.

The service, which has been commissioned by Lewisham Borough Council, is available to any young person under the age of 25 and as well as substance use services they will also provide guidance and support around sexual and reproductive health and relationships.

”We are very excited to launch the new Insight Lewisham service, which will help to reduce the harms associated with drug and alcohol use and risky sexual behaviour for young people in the borough. Insight Lewisham will provide a modern, friendly and accessible front door into health services, and will help meet our aim to reduce the health inequalities experienced by local young people, particularly for those considered most at-risk, vulnerable and under-represented.”

Insight Lewisham will be delivered by Humankind, one of England’s largest drug and alcohol recovery providers, who also offer initiatives for adults in the borough and run other young people’s services across London.

Speaking about the new service, Sharon Pedliham, Area Manager at Humankind, said: “We are delighted to be launching Insight Lewisham, as it means that we can provide free, flexible and judgement free support to young people and families in the borough”.

“Our services are focused on helping young people achieve their potential and be empowered to make healthy and safe decisions, that help them build a more resilient future for themselves”, Pedliham added.

Insight Lewisham will offer workshops and one-to-one support directly to young people, as well as providing advice and support to family members and carers of people who have been impacted by someone’s drug or alcohol use, or risky sexual behaviour. The service will also deliver training, advice and support to local professionals, schools and community groups.

The service will be based on Winslade Way and will operate Monday to Friday from April 1st onwards. Read more about Insight Lewisham here.

Alcohol support in Cumbria boosted by launch of new digital tools

Ellie Lambert

Woman looks at laptop and mobile app

Recovery Steps Cumbria, the new alcohol and drug partnership that launched in the county in October last year, has received a boost with the introduction of new online alcohol tools that help people get personalised feedback about their drinking and advice on local support options.

The free and confidential DrinkCoach tools are designed to help residents assess their drinking, receive tips for cutting back and find out more about the local support options provided by Recovery Steps Cumbria, a service that is delivered in partnership by Humankind, The Well and Cumbria Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service.

Many people enjoy alcohol responsibly, however the Department of Health estimates that 83 percent of people drinking above the low-risk guidelines do not know they are putting their health at risk.

COVID has also led to an increase in the number of people who are drinking at home, making it all the more important for people to have access to information and advice that will help them manage their drinking. The DrinkCoach Alcohol Test is free and confidential and takes just two minutes to complete. By answering 10 simple questions, the test taker receives advice and, where appropriate, information on the many local support options offered by Recovery Steps Cumbria.

Rates of alcohol related harm are higher across the North-West region compared to the rest of England. Cumbria specifically has higher rates compared to the England average for alcohol-related mortality and mortality rates for chronic liver disease. Research also highlights that one in eight drinkers who receive brief advice will reduce their drinking to low risk levels. By providing this advice and support virtually, DrinkCoach can help reduce the burden on GPs and other health professionals at this busy time of year.

Alongside the Alcohol Test, the DrinkCoach app is free to download and use and available on iOS and Android. The app can help residents to self-monitor their drinking, calculate units, cost and calories, set goals and use the many other features available to help them track and change their drinking.

Speaking about the difference that DrinkCoach can make, Angela Calcan, Operations Manager for DrinkCoach, said: “We know that alcohol has affected people in many ways throughout the pandemic. We hope that these tools will allow all residents in Cumbria a quick and confidential way to get feedback, advice and support when they need it.

If people require additional support, they can speak to Recovery Steps Cumbria which has helped almost 1,000 people since it launched in October. The service, which is funded by Cumbria County Council, offers a range of services including clinical, health and wellbeing support, access to work and skills opportunities, and connections to housing.

Support at Recovery Steps Cumbria is provided by trained professionals, including staff and volunteers from The Well who have lived experience of addictions.

Speaking about the addition of the DrinkCoach tools, Ged Pickersgill, Senior Business Development Manager at The Well, said: The Well Communities welcome this innovative approach to supporting people with alcohol issues. As a lived experience recovery organisation (LERO) the majority of staff and members have trodden the path of active alcoholism and recognise there is no one size fits all method of supporting such people. DrinkCoach is a helpful and informative tool that will assist and facilitate people towards healthier relationships with alcohol “.

Recovery Steps Cumbria has services across the region including Carlisle, Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow-in-Furness, as well as satellite offices in Penrith and Kendal.

To take the free and confidential alcohol test visit: https://drinkcoach.org.uk/cumbria-alcohol-test. To find out more about Recovery Steps Cumbria visit https://humankindcharity.org.uk/service/recovery-steps-cumbria/.