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Contributed by
Foundation for Change

Overview

The London-based Foundation for Change works with people who have experienced addiction in the latter stages of their recovery journey and operates in a space between education and therapy. They have an evidence-based approach crafted over a ten year period. It emphasises the need for people with histories of drug or alcohol addiction to be able to make sense of their experiences, understand the reasons they were using substances problematically in the first place and develop the resilience needed to live in an increasingly challenging world.

Their approach uses applied psychology, philosophy and feminist theory to help people understand the root causes of their addiction not just from the perspective of personal experience, but – importantly – within the wider context of social inequality. Both of these have a powerful, de-stigmatising effect and help people let go of much of the shame they carry about their pasts.

This recipe is contributed by Digital Lifelines Scotland – an initiative led by Scottish Government's Digital Health & Care Directorate with Connecting Scotland.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since May 2020.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Foundation for Change’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a user, I want to be able to continue to access educational topics
  • As a user, I want to continue to feel connected to my support network

Software and tools used

Zoom

As the Foundation for Change team was working remotely and already used Zoom the most straightforward option was to use Zoom for this as well.

Cost

£120/year

Considerations

Main benefits & limitations - This software offers mostly benefits, in that most people are already familiar with how it works, recording audio and video is very easy and user friendly.

Adobe Illustrator

Foundation for Change used this image creation and editing software for the creation of their handouts because one of their colleagues uses it anyway. It is not necessary for the creation of handouts - you could just do this in a word processing app and export the file as a PDF.

Cost

£19.99/month (1 year subscription, packaged includes full creative suite for creating and editing images and video)

Considerations

This is overkill for what is required and needs someone who is able to use Illustrator already, so you may be better off using a word processing app if this skillset is not available in your organisation.

Recipe steps

1. Train your staff

Foundation for Change ran in-person group sessions before the lockdowns, so they had facilitation skills in place already. However, for the virtual sessions they carefully considered the online environment, how to keep it safe, welcoming and set healthy boundaries. First of all they considered their audience carefully, and based on their needs, put some rules into place. The most important ones are:

  • Keep your camera on (the sessions are meant to be entirely interactive discussions).
  • Disable the chat function (to prevent harassment and promote vocal engagement).
  • Do an emotional check-in at the start of the sessions (to make sure everyone is ok and establish how everyone is showing up on the day, which may affect discussion).
  • Make sure the session has a clear structure (based on the podcast and associated handout).

2. Produce accompanying materials

These seminars came into being as a follow up to the podcast which Foundation for Change started publishing at the beginning of the pandemic, which has its own service recipe. They identified a need among their users to have a more interactive element to the topics covered, and decided to organise seminars to discuss podcast episodes on the back of this. The podcast recordings and handouts were produced and made available together on their website and various other releasing platforms.

Seminar attendance assumed that attendees had listened to the podcast.

They also created a participation guide which includes information on how to access the podcast and seminars as well.

3. Publicise your seminar

Once a seminar was planned, the information was sent out through Foundation for Change’s social channels, email lists and partnership services who publicised it to their users too, providing this referral guide. Alongside the flyer explaining what and when the seminars were, Foundation for Change created an orientation document for users explaining the rules to be adhered to during the session, as well as the seminar structure and how to book a place.

4. Gather feedback from staff & listeners

To gather feedback on the seminars Foundation for Change ran two focus groups a few weeks after the first seminars ran by inviting people who had attended directly via email. These focus groups were run as zoom sessions, one with five participants and the other eight. They asked questions about the length and accessibility of the podcasts and seminars, as well as taking suggestions for future topics and handouts. One of the most helpful points made was that the idea of carrying on the conversation from the podcast in a seminar can be intimidating - the podcast was recorded by ‘experts’, after all. To address this, the decision was made to include conversation prompts on the handout. These were often questions for people to mull over and bring to the seminar.

Guidance

Share any insights, learnings and guidance that would help another charity to do this well.

The most important thing for this charity was safeguarding, as they work with people who are in recovery. So the question was - how do you make people feel safe? One of the ways they addressed this was by having a very clear set of guidelines on who these seminars are intended for - these are included on their referral guide.

In addition to this, they set very clear rules and boundaries for the Zoom sessions themselves. These were addressed in the orientation document and firmly adhered to by the facilitator on the day. In addition to the boundaries mentioned above, no one under the influence of drugs or alcohol was allowed into the sessions as they are for people in recovery.

Risks

There is a risk of alienating service users as the topics addressed are quite high-brown, so the challenge is about keeping it accessible and fun. It is important to have a user-based approach - think about your client group and adjust your language accordingly.

Points of contact

For further information about this recipe, you can contact:

Bob Bharij, Chief Executive

Thanks

Many thanks to Foundation for Change for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Foundation for Change and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on June 6th, 2022. Last updated June 8th, 2022