NHFT healthcare colleagues working in Cambridgeshire’s secured services are actively encouraging residents who have misused drugs and alcohol, and are successfully recovered, to become Recovery Champions - a peer mentor role, designed to help and support fellow residents with substance misuse issues.
NHFT provides a range of healthcare services at HMP Peterborough YOI, HMP Whitemoor and HMP Littlehey. A significant element of the healthcare provided relates to managing drug and alcohol issues.
The healthcare team believe the Recovery Champion peer mentoring scheme is an effective way to support and engage with residents, encourage sobriety, and reduce substance misuse within the prisons.
Before becoming a Recovery Champion, residents must have successfully recovered and remain abstinent from drink and drugs in order to apply and take up the mentoring role, which is focused on supporting recovery and educating others in the prison community about substance misuse.
Former prisoner ‘Mr A’ used his own recovery experience and positive attitude to help others in the prison and move forwards with his life after his release.
Mr A came into prison with a history of significant cannabis and alcohol misuse. He was a frequent binge drinker, regularly using substances to self-medicate to cope with issues within his family environment. His substance misuse often led to issues with violence and anger; which eventually led to a prison sentence for a crime committed while under the influence of drink and drugs.
Mr A self-referred to the prison’s recovery service and worked closely with his recovery worker throughout his time in custody where he completed in-cell work and group sessions to work on his basic substance awareness, in reducing harm, managing triggers and in relapse prevention.
After displaying positive behaviour, Mr A was moved to the enhanced wing of the prison and while there, he applied to become a Recovery Champion – a role only given to residents who are substance free and complete a covering letter stating why they think they would make a good champion, and then undergo an interview process.
The Role of a Recovery Champion involves assisting the Recovery Department team with particular tasks including; helping staff to deliver courses, supporting other residents in their recovery journey by being a good peer mentor, and displaying a positive, substance free attitude in general.
As a Recovery Champion Mr A was deemed a fantastic mentor to his peers, leading by example and giving good advice to service users. He also helped staff to deliver group sessions with members. His knowledge and substance awareness were invaluable to both staff and residents.
Mr A also had a gym instructor qualification and he loved going to the gym. His skills in this area were utilised in a Physical Education and Recovery Skills group class. This involved him teaching and mentoring participants that opted into the sessions and educating them on the benefits of leading a healthy, substance free lifestyle, coupled with regular physical exercise.
Since his release from prison, Mr A continues in his positive journey, engaging with a community-based drug and alcohol team that his prison health worker referred him to, for ongoing support.
As part of his rehabilitation, he has managed to make additional positive life choices that involve separating himself from acquaintances that had previously been triggers for his substance misuse and relapse.
To find out more about secured services across NHFT and the opportunities to join the service and develop your career visit: www.nhft.nhs.uk/workinsecured