I owe my life and my son’s life to York in Recovery

For 30 years John watched his son slowly deteriorate through his addiction to alcohol. 

Dan was often out of control, regularly hospitalised, didn’t care about his own life and his actions were deeply affecting the lives of those who loved him. 

They were very difficult and dark times.

“I always thought he would die very soon, and it nearly killed me too.” John told us,

“And then one day he came back from a hospital stay, after losing everything – his job, his relationship, trashing his room following his Mum’s death – and talked, for the very first time, about doing some cooking and watching some television with someone he had come across. 

“He had met Mark from York in Recovery, and that interaction, and the prospect of those two simple activities were the start of his life turning around.”

Dan realised that there were other people, just like him, who had experienced life in a similar way to him. He also saw that their lives had changed for the better. He recognised that he could choose to live too. 

A group of people sitting at an allotment

York in Recovery enabled Dan to get back into some semblance of ‘normality’. 

It offered him hope. 

Just some small activities that he could relate to, brought meaning back into his life. 

Now Dan regularly cooks tasty treats at the group’s Sunday Recovery cafe. He’s also created and hosts a pool session for the community, watches TV series with friends, and crucially chats and supports other people.

York in Recovery has turned his Dad John’s life around too. 

“Now is the first time in my life I can talk to Dan as an adult,” said John, “rather than someone who is out of control. I have retired now and all I want to do is give back.”

John is now a Director at York in Recovery and a very active volunteer. His own lived experience as a family member who has years of exposure to the pain of addiction gives him a huge insight into other people’s circumstances. 

“Alcoholism and addiction is difficult for everyone living with it, not just the person going through it themselves. We are all in it together.”

A man smiling in front of a colourful background

John, a Director at York in Recovery, who owes his son’s life to the organisation

York in Recovery, a peer support recovery group, has been going for a number of years, run by incredibly passionate volunteers and supported by Changing Lives, operating largely on goodwill and with very few resources. 

However, until a few years ago, they were struggling. Although key people joined their monthly meetings and activities, the number of people who actually came for support was dwindling rapidly. The model, and the support they were providing, wasn’t reaching the people that really needed help. 

York in Recovery very nearly didn’t apply for a Two Ridings Deciding Together grant in 2021, so contrasting were the thoughts of the people involved, but when they were awarded £43,286 through an innovative and inclusive participatory process, it was, Mark their now Director, said ‘an absolute gamechanger’.

With their funding Mark was given a full-time role as Director of the group. They also joined and learn from the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations, but most importantly they were able to open more Recovery cafes and put on activities that both interested the people they support and were led by them.  

Mark at York in Recovery

Amongst other things, they now have a serenity garden anyone can use and join in at a weekly gardening group, a weekly Pool get-together, regular outreach sessions and even a drama group led by a member in recovery. Every day in York you can do an activity, or have a chat, with someone connected to York in Recovery. 

“We’ve all been there” says Mark, “we would never turn anyone away. Our lived experience is what makes us who we are.”

“What we do is help others who have been through, or are going through, very difficult times. We now have busy breakfast clubs, a popular Pool morning, WhatsApp groups – really something for everyone.”

John, Dan’s Dad concluded:

“Everyone hides too much. The cafes and activities York in Recovery put on are relaxed and welcoming. You can talk about anything you want and you are listened to and understood. People are able to be themselves. Those that have felt lost can find themselves again.”

“The sessions provide hope and spark joy and meaning. I really do owe my life, and my son’s life to York in Recovery. I am so grateful.”

York in Recovery received £43,287  from the Deciding Together Fund in 2021. In 2022 they received £4,129 from the Nimbuscare Community Fund and in 2023 £9,230 in a Step Change grant. These funds have enabled them to grow more, so much so that Mark feels he has to pinch himself to really believe it.  They now have an office and meeting space within the Priory Street centre in York. They also have funding for training staff and volunteers, for a Content Relationship Management system and to continue to develop their website. 

York in Recovery can be reached directly through their website.

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