KickBack Recovery - making connections - 04/05/2021
“It feels strange to say that there were some benefits to lockdown, but for some people accessing our support, it has undoubtedly saved their lives”, explains Mick Hartley, founder of KickBack Recovery.
“Being able to join groups remotely, in a safe way, and access support that works for them has helped people turn their lives around. And for us, it’s meant that we can support more people, and start to build those trusting and supportive relationships that help people make progress in their lives.”
KickBack Recovery is a peer-led community group supporting people with addiction and mental health problems, and their affected family members. KickBack offers a range of services that work on helping people overcome addiction, find purpose and grow beyond their addictions.
The team holds group therapy sessions, fitness training and activities, and works in partnership with other organisations in Sheffield. From holding sessions at the Archer Project and working with the Salvation Army, to an office at Sheffield College, the team’s offering has evolved over the past three years, with a renewed focus on addiction and recovery education, helping to spread the message of recovery to those in need.
Like all support groups, the pandemic forced KickBack to switch up their offering, as everything moved online almost overnight. As a peer-led organisation, KickBack have always had a strong online community, so virtual ways of working were familiar to many of them. With over 22,000 followers, 3000 of whom are in a private Facebook group, supporting others virtually plays to the group’s strengths.
Mick explained, “people were able to join our support groups from outside of Sheffield, which means we were able to reach people that we couldn’t before. We had people joining from Chesterfield, Nottingham and elsewhere, and they really started to get something out of our sessions, when before they’d have been coping on their own. We’ve seen people join sessions with their camera off, not engaging at all initially, and as they get more used to the format of the sessions and start to feel more comfortable, their cameras go on, and then the next time they might speak to the group. It’s great to see those small steps of progress that people have made during lockdown.”
“One real success story has been X. He was referred to us in a bad way. Suicidal, a chronic relapser with alcohol, struggling with depression and anxiety. He started to engage remotely during lockdown, gradually getting more confident in sessions. And his alcohol started to reduce. He was in the Northern General on a detox and we were supporting him while he was in there too. He’s now been sober for 5 months. It feels like a miracle to have helped him move from where he was to where he is now!”
“But it’s not all positive. We lost someone not long ago. I wish we could have saved her. It’s that reminder and realisation that addiction is a disease that kills. Through our work and focusing on connections with people and staying close by offering support as it’s needed, we hope that we can really make a difference to people.”
Alison Wise for Help us Help, May 2021