The essential journalist news source
Middlesbrough hailed exemplar in building recovery cities initiative
Please find press release below regarding the Building Inclusive Recovery Cities event which took place at the Riverside Stadium this week attracting international delegates to Middlesbrough.

I wondered if you might be interested in speaking with both Dot and Professor David Best to explore what a recovery city is and why recovery should be everyone’s business? We can also put forward interviewees who can discuss how they personally navigated recovery beyond the traditional health services - and some of the challenges they faced along the way.

Interviews/imagery available upon request. Two photos from the event are attached (of Professor David Best and Dot Smith).

Many thanks



International delegates gathered in Middlesbrough this week (9 May) to learn how to build an Inclusive Recovery City.

Led by Middlesbrough charity Recovery Connections, and featuring international speakers from industry and academia, the event, hosted at The Riverside Stadium, identified best practice taking place in Teesside, and discussed how others could follow suit to support communities and individuals affected by addiction and harness the power of recovery.

The concept of a Recovery City identifies the significant value to society that people in recovery make, not just in terms of supporting peers into recovery but more broadly (for example, around 80% of people in long-term recovery take on voluntary roles, twice as many when compared to the general population). However, it also considers the negative challenges and barriers they face, not just in terms of initially accessing healthcare when unwell, but the ongoing social and employment-related discrimination which persists well into, and often inhibits, recovery.

The Recovery City concept also acknowledges the role of recovery cafes, social enterprise models, recovery marches/games and many other awareness raising activities - something that Recovery Connections has either been delivering in Middlesbrough or taking part in for many years.

Recovery Connections has long been a national advocate for increasing the visibility of recovery from addiction. The charity led the UK's first collegiate recovery programme, an on-campus support service for students based at Teesside University, and its innovative partnership with PD Ports has provided judgment-free support for employees struggling with problematic drinking or drug-taking.

The event was led by Recovery Connections' CEO Dot Smith and Professor David Best - the world's first Professor of Addiction Recovery. Speakers included PD Ports' CEO Frans Calje; Dr David Patton (Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Derby); Dr Ed Day (the UK government's National Recovery Champion, Clinical Reader in Addiction Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Birmingham and Consultant Psychiatrist with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS trust). Delegates also heard from European partners representing Ghent, Dublin and Gothenburg, where similar initiatives are beginning to take hold.

The day ended with representatives from other UK regions pledging their commitment to progress such activities in their respective towns and cities.

Dot Smith, CEO, Recovery Connections, said:"Recovery is everyone's business - after all, so much of society, of our economy, is driven by alcohol, and we need to fight back against the harms it causes and shine a light on the true value of recovery which is grounded in a community of lived experience. But we need policy makers, business leaders, health professionals, the education sector and the wider public to play a role too.

"Recovery from addictions is more than a health issue - and in order for people to thrive, discrimination needs to end to ensure access to housing, employment, social activities and education is a given. Currently, it is not.

"People in recovery are often some of the most selfless, inspirational and driven people we could ever hope to meet. It's time we tackled stigma and worked more collaboratively to encourage more people into recovery, and to ultimately benefit from everything that recovery has to offer society as a whole."

Professor David Best said:"Recovery is a social, peer-to-peer contagion that starts with ‘if they can do it, I can do it'. It doesn't exist inside people, it exists between people, but we need to facilitate the conditions for this transformative power to take place. If people don't know where or how to find recovery, due to current hierarchies, outdated systems and policies, and stigma and discrimination, they can't reach their potential and neither can society.

"Middlesbrough is ahead of the curve in this respect thanks to the direct commissioning of lived experience initiatives via public health leaders and Recovery Connections, its strong emphasis on community and social enterprises and the buy-in we have already seen from industry and higher education which will only continue to grow. If this can be replicated around the UK, the possibilities will be endless." 

For further information about Recovery Connections




For further media information, interviews or imagery, contact Lucy Nichol on / 07771 967032 or Simon Trelfa