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  • Writer's pictureTim Sampey

A Brief History of the Recovery Connectors

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

We came together during the pandemic of 2020, initially to do little more than discuss the possibility of trying to bring together the many dozens of LERO’s across the country to see if collectively we could level the playing field a little.

We were a self-selecting group of individuals, inviting people we thought might be interested in the project, and with whom we felt we could build a ‘radius of trust’, many of us having been involved in similar projects which has disintegrated in a welter of arguments and accusations without ever achieving very much at all.

In inviting people into our original discussions, we looked for a couple of academics who might be interested in the project, a geographical spread of LERO’s across the United Kingdom, and of course the National Recovery Champion. One or two members have been added over the months, either because they came from an under-represented area of the country, or because they possessed an expertise we felt was missing from the connectors, working with marginalised communities that are under-represented in wider system being an example.

In a series of virtual meeting which took place over many months, we slowly agreed on our aims. We wanted to position LERO’s as the fourth sector of the drug and alcohol treatment system, vital components of a recovery orientated system of care.

Parity of esteem for LERO’s was important to us, recognising that people are, by and large, experts on themselves, championing the shift away from ‘done to’, to ‘done by and done with’.

We hoped to create a broad membership of LERO’s who could meet to share ideas, best practice, and support each other across the country. We wanted to help build an evidence base for LERO’s nationally, to demonstrate the outcomes and impact we know is taking place. We felt it important to showcase the work being done by LERO’s nationally and highlight this undervalued and underrepresented element of the wider treatment system.

We wanted to create an umbrella body that would give us a political voice, however small, and allow us to input into documents like the Dame Carol Black Report, the governments ‘Harm to Hope’ drug strategy, and the new commissioning guidelines being written by OHID.

We also wished to create a tool kit that would help LERO’s grow and develop and share the learning from a wide range of organisations across the country.

We have not succeeded in all the above, often slowed down by the fact that we work on the CLERO project in our spare time, all of us otherwise employed, but we feel we have made some important steps in the past eighteen months and are determined to continue to do so. We are helping to put LERO’s firmly on the map, and are beginning to have an influence with commissioners, encouraging them to commission and support LERO’s, big and small, as an important element of a recovery orientated system of care. We want every LERO in the country to be both seen and valued.

We have finally got a website up and running, and have constituted CLERO and as CIC, more small steps toward building a national network.

The Connectors have agreed that from the formation of the CIC, members of the connectors group will be invited to serve a term of three years. We have yet to decide on a mechanism for inviting or electing individuals into the group as the membership slowly changes, but we are already thinking about it. We want to create an inclusive organisation and develop it slowly in a manner that will allow it to become self-sustaining and transparent, avoiding the pitfalls that have destroying so many similar projects before. Perhaps things are moving more slowly than we would like, but they are moving, and we believe, in the right direction.

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