Marsh Recovery Awards with We Are With You

These Awards recognise the hard work, dedication and outstanding contributions that people in recovery have made to raising awareness, supporting others in recovery and combatting the stigma associated with substance use. People who inspire others in recovery are integral to We Are With You’s work and they help to show that a life free from the problems addiction brings is possible.

Four Awards are given each year to individuals and groups, both internally and externally to We Are With You.

For more information on how to apply, visit We Are With You’s website.

Pictured: 2015 Winners Club Soda delivering Co-Design workshop: “How to go to the pub”

Marion Armstrong & Mandy Dunlop, Owen McNamee, Sajjad Mombeini and Alex Jubb 2022

Marion Armstrong and Mandy Dunlop 

Marion and Mandy are both WAWY graduates who have worked hard over the past two years to support the NE Recovery Hub to adapt and change the service in response to the needs of the people it supports. They have been instrumental in setting up a ‘Take What You Need’ room at the Hub, providing service users with food, clothes and toiletries if they feel that they are unable to go to external clothing or food banks due to stigma. They have worked hard to manage and sort the donations, providing a much needed resource that would not have been possible without their commitment. Marion and Mandy also set up a local Women’s Walking Group which runs every Tuesday from the Hub and provides both an opportunity for physical exercise and peer support. They recognised that women in recovery may not feel comfortable in more formal recovery settings and now have a strong group of around 10-15 people attending each week.  

Owen McNamee

Owen is a veteran service user that sought support from WAWY through the armed forces programme. He has done incredibly well in his recovery and is currently abstinent from alcohol. Owen has now started as a Peer Volunteer and supports the National Armed Forces MAP Group and is a huge asset to the team in Somerset. He tackled his recovery to make his son and family proud, and has been able to take part in a skydive which has seen him raise funds for WAWY and the armed forces in the community.  

Sajjad Mombeini  

Sajjad has been a Community Recovery Champion in Liverpool for only a few months, but has proved to be a real asset. He has overcome the language barriers people face when moving to another country and emotional difficulties such as fleeing an area of conflict. Engaging with the service has helped him overcome his substance use issues and, once he was substance free, he asked how he could help the service more which led him to this role. Sajjad is a visible presence to service users that recovery is possible. He lights up the room with his smile and genuine caring manner and he has spoken to others coming from Iraq to access the service to offer any additional help that they need. Sajjad is always the first to offer to get involved with new projects and training as he wants to learn as much as she can. He also spoke to the Investors in Volunteers Assessor recently when they came to the service which further highlighted his commitment and dedication. Sajjad’s background is helping the service to break down barriers when it comes to his culture and people accessing the service from his community. His feedback and ideas have helped the service to become more diverse. 

Alex Jubb 

Alex was initially known to the service as part of her own recovery, then progressed to Recovery Champion and then to Volunteer before finally becoming a Lived Experience Worker. She is an asset to the service; not only does she live and breathe recovery, she is a pioneer amongst her peers and those who access the service as she encourages community integration. She has demonstrated her passion when working with the Pre- and Post-Detox groups and has plans to develop this further to support the interests of service users in their own recovery. Alex is a vital support to the service in Shropshire, both in her role with clients on a one-to-one basis but also in facilitating group sessions. Her skills, knowledge and ability to trust her gut mean that the work she delivers is to an extremely high and thorough standard. 

Previous Winners

Andrew Ogilvie, Covid Response Team, Jason Higgins and James Carey

Andrew Ogilvie 

Andrew has been a volunteer with the Bournemouth service for almost 4 years, starting his journey as a client before completing the peer mentoring and peer advocacy course. He supports staff with the co-facilitation of a Friday morning group and undertook training to enable him to start Bournemouth’s first Mutual Aid Partnership (MAP) group. He has shown amazing dedication to both the service and his own recovery journey. Andrew battled his issues with technology to ensure that groups could be delivered online during the pandemic and has provided training for other volunteers. It is thanks to him that MAP groups have been so successful in Bournemouth, and he is a much valued member of the team. 

Covid Response Team, Glasgow North East Recovery Hub 

This team of volunteers united at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that services continued to be delivered and service users continued to be supported through these challenging times. They provided food parcels, delivered hot meals, ran a varied programme of online groups and even delivered Naloxone Training which is imperative to those recovering from an opioid addiction. During the first 6 months of the pandemic, the team delivered 117 online groups, as well as doorstep visits to ensure that service users were not isolated. They put the needs of others first and have demonstrated resilience, compassion and determination. 

Jason Higgins 

Jason is a previous client of the Liverpool service and was an original member of the Evening Stimulant Group, which he now co-facilitates. During his time as a service user, Jason was keen to learn and put into practice the skills he was given. As he progressed with his recovery, he became a Community Recovery Champion so that he could help others on their recovery journeys. He is a key member of the supporting WhatsApp groups for the service, welcoming new members and providing support and information where needed. Jason is always willing to share his story and in sharing the ups and downs of his journey, he becomes relatable to other participants. 

James Carey 

James is a previous service user with the Glasgow Recovery Hub who, during his time there, engaged really well with the service and was motivated to change his life. He is now a Recovery Champion with the service and volunteers several times a week. James has been facilitating the Opiate Replacement Therapy group every Monday for about a year, and has also been facilitating the Therapeutic Tuesdays group as well. He has an excellent manner and is very passionate about supporting people at the Recovery Hub and in the community. 

John Reynolds, Geoff Rowe, Allan Gerard and Libby Lloyds

Individual Achievement Award 

John Reynolds 

John has been volunteering since 2012 and has completed over 2,000 hours of volunteering. He is a qualified counsellor and truly wants to give back to the service after being in recovery for many years. He is also a volunteer with the Samaritans, Night Link and Enable, which demonstrates his total dedication to helping people. John also runs a MAP group which has been running for many years, building up and supporting a strong network of attendees in an area that has been historically difficult to engage with. He is willing to offer support in any way he can, taking on phone mentoring during lockdown to help some of the service’s most vulnerable clients and liaises regularly with staff to alert them to any changes or concerns. John has overcome his technophobia to take part in online counselling sessions and support groups throughout lockdown. His kindness, compassion and constant determinations to improve the lives of people he meets is clearly evident. He believes that “kindness is the most important thing. If I can make one person smile then all the hard work is worthwhile”. 

Geoff Rowe 

Geoff, who sadly passed away recently, was a volunteer at the Truro office for many years. He had mild learning difficulties and undiagnosed autism but had a talent for meticulous organisation and filing and utilised his skills regularly. He was an extremely popular member of the team and felt at home volunteering at the service – he was well known for his eccentric dress sense! Geoff grew more and more confident in the office and helped with a wide range of tasks, becoming invaluable to the day to day running of the service. 

Allan Gerrard 

Allan referred himself to the service in 2017 for issues with cocaine and alcohol. He worked hard with his key worker to reduce and address his substance misuse issues and he credits her for sticking by him throughout his journey to recovery. He was a participant in ETE groups throughout his recovery and worked hard on his personal journey, at the same time as working with social services to reconnect with his four children – he is now a full time single parent to them. Allan is now a Community Recovery Champion and has promoted the service to new starters and other organisations. He is involved in peer groups and has undertaken training so that he can co-facilitate them alongside a member of staff. These groups are well attended and Allan is great at empowering and encouraging members of the group to focus on their personal recovery journeys. During lockdown, the groups were held over WhatsApp so that isolated clients could be supported more regularly and encouraged to maintain their abstinence. Allan is a true credit to the organisation. 

Recovery in the Media 

Libby Lloyd – Young Persons’ Service, Liverpool 

Libby volunteers in our young persons service in Liverpool Libby  wanted to volunteer with us as she is very interested in the subject matter and wanted to learn more, so she could gain valuable experience and knowledge around substance use and what the service does In the community. Although Libby was only 17 years old when she started  with us, she is mature and professional in her approach and was not daunted coming in to volunteer with us, she was excited and rearing to go.

Libby from day one has been  committed to doing as many days and hours as she can she does three days per week and is regular as clockwork, she is reliable and approachable and the staff know if she says she will help with something she will do so, for example:

When she was attending going to observe a member off staff deliver some drug awareness session,  Libby went away researched the subject and before the training she went through with the member of staff what she had researched and they went over her findings and they were able to look at both sides and any areas where Libby could participate.

Mental Health Awareness week – Libby is passionate around this subject matter, during international Mental Health week, Libby was the main volunteer to send me posts on Anxiety, helpful tips and Info around peoples Mental Health,

Redcar Recovery Champions, Kayleigh Hutton, Darren Mansfield, Katie Etheridge

Exceptional Group in the Field of Recovery

The Redcar Recovery Champions have built a peer led recovery focus for service users in Redcar and Cleveland. Despite facing their own adversities of mental and physical health, family breakdowns, domestic abuse and financial deprivation, they come together individually and as a team to continually support others and challenge barriers to breakdown stigmas and promote change and choice. The service have won a grant to develop a pace to offer peer-led ‘meet and eat’ sessions for those who are socially isolated. The Recovery Champions have also established a ‘Welcome Group’ so that they are the first point of contact for people coming to the service for treatment, providing them with a safe space and an opportunity to share their stories of recovery. The inspiration of these Champions has empowered people to gain qualifications, seek mental health support and build social confidence. Everything that is being achieved at the service is through the ideas and inspiration of the Recovery Champions who are responding to the needs of the service users.

Exceptional Media in Challenging the Stigma of Recovery

Kayleigh’s path to recovery started in 2013 when she was approached by Channel 4’s programme ‘Skint’, who were eager to follow her journey at what was one of the lowest points of her life. Kayleigh was initially hesitant, but agreed to take part in the filming on the condition that they find her a place in residential rehab so that she could escape her cycle of addiction. Several years on from getting clean, Kayleigh returned to Grimsby and became a peer mentor for a drug and alcohol service. She continues to share her story and fiercely defends those who have a similar background and history to her. She was recently approached by The Grimsby Telegraph for an update story about how she has turned her life around. The story was picked up by media outlets around the country and globally on social media. Kayleigh is an inspiration to others and in May 2019, was successful in securing a full-time admin position with Addaction.

Exceptional Individual in the Field of Recovery

Darren has developed hugely as a volunteer over the last year, he has taken the lead on projects within the service and gone over and above his role, demonstrating his dedication to the service. He takes advantage of every opportunity to support the client group and develop himself professionally. He is involved with a number of projects including the Breakfast Club and the community allotment, as well as taking part in volunteer training. He has brought so much to the service, including establishing a fitness officer to encourage clients to become more active, and creates a relaxed safe space for clients to engage in purposeful activity in their own recovery journey. Darren’s one-to-one work with clients is invaluable, and he takes the time to prepare specific structures for each client which provide a true insight on how achieving recovery is different for everyone. Darren is a true asset to the service and is well-loved by staff and clients alike.

Exceptional Collaboration in the Field of Recovery

Katie has been the volunteer coordinator for the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme for 5 years, and has supported numerous volunteers and young people by encouraging them to share their inspirational life stories and running workshops. She has been exceptionally driven, and managed to expand the programme from Halton into Cheshire, Liverpool and Sefton, building on her hard work year on year. The Amy Winehouse Foundation, which works to prevent the effects of drug and alcohol misuse on young people, no longer runs a programme alongside Addaction, however it was felt that Katie’s contributions alongside Addaction workers have educated and informed young people across the North West about the services and support that is available to them.

Dave Taylor, Nick Ellis, Creative Start and 'Drink Wise, Age Well' volunteers

Exceptional Individual in the Field of Recovery

Dave Taylor has been a volunteer with Addaction in Grimsby for over 2 years, initially starting as a peer mentor before progressing to a volunteer. Historically, he had issues with alcohol which subsequently resulted in him being hospitalised and losing everything before slowly building himself up and becoming a peer mentor so that he could give something back to society. Dave is keen to learn as much as possible through training and is heavily involved in the groups, sharing his experiences of them playing a big part in his own recovery. Once a week he visits Grimsby hospital to see patients who have been admitted and have underlying addictions, lending a professional listening ear which also has a personal touch as he can empathise with what they are going through. Dave is happy to share his story and has given presentations, which would have once caused him to drink, and been interviewed on local radio and television. He takes it all in his stride and nothing fazes him.

Exceptional Collaboration in the Field of Recovery

Nick Ellis has been working closely with the Alcohol Liaison Team at UHNS Hospital doing regular visits to people admitted into hospital with substance misuse issues or health conditions due to substance misuse. The Team will identify patients who might benefit from a visit from Nick and he will talk to them about his own experiences of addiction, how he got support and how it has had a positive impact on his life. Nick connects really well with people in hospital and many clients have engaged in support when they are discharged as a result of his visit. Nick is reactive and supportive and is really making a difference to the lives of people he visits. He has built a great professional partnership with the hospital which has increased the number of referrals received by the recovery service.

Exceptional Group in the Field of Recovery

Creative Start delivers an abstinence-based recovery art programme at various community locations including Addaction Grimsby. They promote recovery and help all members create works of art that can be exhibited locally to help improve their confidence and self-esteem. Sam Delaney, the driving force behind this enterprise, is 13 years in recovery from alcohol and developed the group to strengthen his own and others’ recovery. The group design merchandise designed by members to sustain themselves and members are encouraged to become involved in community projects such as murals and local events. Creative Start has provided support and aftercare for people in recovery since 2005. Sam has fantastic ideas of how to use art as a tool in a person’s recovery and is an extremely supportive presence to all his members.

Exceptional Media in Challenging the Stigma of Recovery

Willie McGarill, Pauline McCarron, Jim McCormack and Willie McCarthy are exemplary of the value that volunteers bring to the ‘Drink Wise, Age Well’ programme. This is a National Lottery funded programme led by Addaction to help people aged 50 and over make healthier choices about alcohol. The programme is steadily building awareness of higher risk drinking and this is largely thanks to volunteers who are prepared to speak about their experiences of problems with alcohol to the media. Willie, Pauline, Jim and Willie have all been extremely open about their struggles with alcohol and the causes of these struggles. Putting their stories out in the media has allowed other people to recognise similar patterns in their own lives and is helping to reduce higher risk drinking among the over 50s.

Lynsey McKenzie, Leanne Gillon, Harry Shapiro and the Right Turn Veterans Group

Exceptional Individual in the Field of Recovery

Lyndsey McKenzie is a volunteer with the North-West Recovery Communities in Glasgow and takes a lead role in three of their recovery cafés. This responsibility has seen Lyndsey blossom from an isolated individual in recovery to someone who is well respected in the community and a person people can turn to for help with their recovery. Lyndsey has shared her story with people at the Recovery Communities 5th Birthday Party and now delivers a group session in the Addaction Hub every Tuesday as a Recovery Champion.

Exceptional Activity in the Field of Recovery

Leanne Gillon has been a key part in the improvement of Recovery services in South Lanarkshire. She established an MAP group in her local area and now co-facilitates the group, encouraging members to work together to achieve their recovery goals. Leanne has helped the group to integrate into the community and forge important links with other organisations. As a result, the group has grown significantly, and Leanne has been a constant presence in the group and a great support to the members of the group.

Exceptional Media in Challenging the Stigma of Recovery

Harry Shapiro is the Director of DrugWise and has worked in the drugs field for over 35 years. He was the main media spokesperson for DrugScope, Managing Director of Druglink and has written and lectured extensively on all aspects of drugs and drug-related issues. Harry regularly appears in the media, including the Today programme, the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent, representing the views of alcohol and drug users and challenging stigma. He is hugely knowledgeable and presents his information and evidence in a skilled and non-judgemental way, acting as an advocate for service users and their family and friends.

Exceptional Group in the Field of Recovery

The Right Turn Group is a peer-led group of veterans who provide support to veterans with issues relating to substance misuse in Wigan. They have advertised in their local area to attract new members and have completed a number of fundraising activities including a walk up Ben Nevis. The group have built a great support network for one another, both within the group and in their local area, from finding training courses to helping those who presented to the group as homeless find accommodation.

Anna Elston, Swanswell Peer Support Group, Foundations Drug and Alcohol Service and Amy Liptrot

Exceptional Individual in the Field of Recovery

Anna Elston has used her own personal experiences to help other parents who are battling with addiction. She has spoken publicly about her experiences, through radio and press interviews, in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction. Anna is also involved with the Amy Winehouse Foundation, where she helps to deliver training to prevent and educate others about addiction.

Exceptional Group in the Field of Recovery

The Swanswell Peer Support Group offers a range of volunteering opportunities for people in recovery. The group is run by people with lived experience of addiction and provides members with the opportunity to develop their confidence and engage with their local community and environment, including adopting a tree in the local park which they use as a meeting space.

Exceptional Activity in the Field of Recovery

The Foundations Drug and Alcohol Service in Grimsby has developed an allotment which is looked after 7 days a week by people in recovery. The activities on the allotment help to give participants a sense of purpose and responsibility, whilst at the same time improving their physical and mental wellbeing.

Exceptional Media in Challenging the Stigma of Recovery

The Outrun tells the story of Amy Liptrot’s return to her hometown in Orkney, Scotland, to aid her recovery from addiction, understanding her descent into addiction through its connection to wildness of her homeland. Amy’s book was published in January 2016, was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, won the Wainwright Book Prize and is a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.

Kerrie Hudson, Peer Supporters at RISE, Laura Willoughby at Club Soda, Sarah Hepola and Max Daly

Exceptional Individual in the Field of Recovery

Kerrie Hudson has been instrumental in setting up The Well, a not-for-profit organisation based in Lancashire, which provides housing and recovery programmes for service-users. Kerrie has used her own personal experiences as someone in recovery to identify gaps in local services and has worked with other agencies to ensure that the needs of people in recovery are met. Just one example of this was the establishment of a local women’s group in Morecambe.

Exceptional Group in the Field of Recovery

The peer supporters at RISE in Devon, made up of a group of service users in recovery, have been driving the recovery agenda in Devon and challenging the stigma around recovery. The group has worked tirelessly to raise funds to set up 11 Recovery Cafés which offer a supportive environment for people on their journey in recovery.

Exceptional Activity in the Field of Recovery  

Laura Willoughby was awarded for setting up ‘Club Soda’, an online platform supporting individuals who want to change their drinking habits. Club Soda allows people to set goals, track their progress and get together to share their experiences. It has over 3,000 members and 15 volunteers who organise local social events.

Exceptional Media in Challenging the Stigma of Recovery (Joint Winners)

Journalist Sarah Hepola was awarded for her memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, which tells the story of alcohol misuse, and the journey to sobriety, in an engaging and enlightening way.

Max Daly was awarded for his ongoing column in Vice UK called Narcomania, where he uncovers the truth about drug issues in the UK. Through his column, Max tells the stories of real people implicated in drug misuse, calls for stronger policies in this area and helps reduce the stigma associated with talking about drugs.