Walking into recovery: how Shelter marked recovery month in Sheffield

Walking into recovery: how Shelter marked recovery month in Sheffield

Shelter GROW trainee, Darren Mansfield, on organising a series of recovery walks to mark Recovery Month in September.

Once a month, Shelter, alongside other organisations who provide support around drug and alcohol addiction in Sheffield, take part in a meeting named the Sheffield Recovery Forum. These meetings bring together the issues faced by Sheffield’s community regarding mental health and substance misuse. Since starting with Shelter as a GROW trainee, I have been attending these meetings on behalf of Shelter’s Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Recovery Housing Support Service in Sheffield.

Every year worldwide, September is celebrated as Recovery Month.  Various activities are setup to educate and increase the awareness of substance use and mental health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, these activities had to be scaled back this year, but all partners of the recovery group continued to seek ways to spread the word of recovery throughout the month of September.

Shelter was very keen to involve the organisation in the positive steps being taken in and around Sheffield, so it was decided that two different activities would be set up. Our ETEL co-ordinator Alison Stanley arranged creative activities, and I organised a series of recovery walks that were facilitated by myself and one of our long serving Shelter volunteers, Edward Russell.

We were determined to ensure these activities were meaningful, whilst still ensuring the walks were COVID-19-safe.  Once the necessary risks were identified and strategies put in place, the walks were set to run every Wednesday afternoon during September.  I contacted our service users to offer them the opportunity, and so the Recovery Walks began.

Over the five walks, our clients all stated how beneficial they had been in combating the isolation and boredom arising from the pandemic. They also reported an improvement in their mental well-being. The walk routes were worked out in partnership with our clients. This included parts of the Five Weir walk, and a tour of Sheffield’s historic buildings. The clients who participated all engaged well, and new support networks were built up between the group.

Our aim is to ensure that our clients feel part of a community where the belief is that recovery is not only possible, but very much attainable.  

Many members of the recovery community submitted their personal recovery stories, which were posted online for others to draw inspiration from. As a GROW trainee, I am also part of this recovery community, so you can read my story, too.