In September, the charity pulled out of our hat as part of our 2017 charity support scheme was New Link Wales. New Link Wales work to help people get their lives back on track through volunteering, training and recovery programmes.
Last week, we met with Relationship Coordinator Sue, service user Meirion, and some others who were busy crafting as part of the Buzzin programme which produces locally sourced honey.
Sue spent a long time telling us all about the various branches of NLW, from volunteering to employment support, drink-driving rehabilitation and education and qualification programmes. Their focuses as a charity include Education and Qualifications, Raising Awareness, and Training Service Providers, such as GPs and teachers, to keep standards of care as high as possible.
Until last year, NLW was solely focussed on supporting individuals recovering from substance misuse, but they’ve recently altered their remit to reflect those with wellbeing issues also. Staff had found that the methods and projects designed to help their service users with substance misuse problems would also help those with wellbeing issues.
New Link Wales run several voluntary programmes with the aim of aiding the substance misuse sector, as well as to allow service users to utilise their skills to make a difference. Despite the support available for those in recovery, CEO Lindsay and the team at NLW felt there wasn’t enough available to support individuals post-recovery.
“People can feel isolated and vulnerable,” Sue said. “It’s a huge change not just stopping using but a change in social scene too. They can become reclusive. Our programmes are a way for them to gain confidence.”
- Mile – The Mile Programme is a 10 week course with a qualification at the end. It covers a multitude of subjects, such as volunteering, work skills, training, and more, and was undertaken by Meirion Evans, who learned to use a computer for the first time. Meirion was hesitant at first as he had no intention of volunteering, but he took the course following the wonderful experience he’d had with the Wellbeing Course. You can read Meirion’s full story here.
- New Steps – If you’re going through substance misuse and alcohol-related treatment, New Steps is a chance to meet people, build skills, and be part of something incredibly positive.
- Buzzin – The Buzzin Project uses beekeeping to teach people essential skills they need to maintain positive changes in their lives. Buzzin came about when CEO Lindsay realised that the tools people were taught during treatment, (team building, remaining calm, looking out for others,) were very similar to the skills needed for beekeeping. She launched Buzzin as a way for service users to put these skills in to practice.Interestingly, Lindsay herself was homeless at 16, meaning she has firsthand experience of much of what the service users have dealt with. There’s a huge amount of research into the benefits of peer mentoring, and NLW seems to be a tried and tested example of this, with many of the staff having been through similar services themselves. Perhaps this contributes to the inclusivity felt at NLW. Staff discuss each and every service user individually, on a personal level – they know names, faces, stories, struggles and achievements. No one at NLW is reduced to a number.
New Link Wales have truly put the ‘fun’ in fundraising’ – There are ample opportunities to get involved with NLW and their fundraising programmes, from the K9 Biathlon next year, (which Katie has promised to take part in with pet pooch Eddie!) to the daringly named Heroine Day.
“It’s bold but we make no apologies for it,” Sue said of the title. “We’re saying ‘here we are and this is what we do.’” As with many decisions, the board went to the service users for their opinions on what to call the fundraising day, and they all agreed with the name proposed by Sue. “When you paint a mental picture of an addict, it’s never somebody sitting next to you in work, but it could be, and you wouldn’t know,” she said. Heroine Day is all about raising awareness. On 1 December this year, be a superhero and celebrate the heroic strength of recovery from drug and alcohol misuse by dressing up for the day!
“We’re all about celebrating recovery. Recovery is possible and it should be celebrated, we try very hard to reduce the stigma about it, because it takes a huge amount of effort.”
Help and Support
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance or alcohol misuse related problems, New Link Wales has a page full of information, advice and contact details. Help is always available.