Russell Brand has announced funding to develop abstinence based community support for people leaving drug and alcohol abstinence treatment.

The Give it Up Fund, set up by Russell, and managed by Comic Relief, will make funding available to help people remain free of drug and alcohol use through helping to develop recovery communities in three pilot areas.

The idea of recovery communities is to make sure that all the local services that someone needs to sustain abstinence are available and joined up. These include housing, finding a job, support with their health needs and a range of social activities and peer support. This fund will help ensure this happens so that people can make lasting changes to their lives.

Russell Brand spoke at The Recovery Group UK (RGUK) and Give it Up’s conference ‘Creating Recovery’ on Thursday 16 January 2014 at the London Film Museum. The event, sponsored by RAPt, was aimed at health commissioners, those working in the drug and alcohol treatment system and police and crime commissioners.

People leaving abstinence based rehabilitation and treatment programmes are more likely to stay off alcohol and drugs if they are part of a recovery community.

Russell Brand said: “It’s integral that people entering a life of abstinence after the chaos of addiction have stability, support and a role to play in the wider community. With this fund we have the opportunity to perform a kind of social alchemy turning hapless (often smelly) junkies into helpful busy bodies, pottering about and contributing. It’s the sort of scheme that even the Daily Mail could support.”

Langan’s Tea Rooms in Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire are the hub of the BAC O’Connor Centre’s Recovery Community. The Tea Rooms are run as a social enterprise that provides training, education and a safe environment for people in recovery to socialise in, join the football team or guitar club and have parties. They have provided 16 new jobs for people in the recovery community, where they gain valuable work experience as volunteers serving customers. All revenue is ploughed back into community services for people in recovery.

Noreen Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of The BAC (Burton Addiction Centre) & O’Connor Centres, one of the UK’s recovery communities said: "Well over half the people we treat at our centres remain drug free after a year. This is because we have developed a recovery community, integrating individuals back into contributing to society, with on-going support.

“When you look at the results, it is hard to understand why recovery communities are not being used more widely. They help people to become drug free in the long term and rebuild their lives. Social enterprises, like Langan’s Tea Rooms, can provide a fantastic model to help people to develop new skills so they can find work and tackle stigma through contact with new people. It also offers a safe space for relaxation.”

The Give it Up funds will focus on sustaining abstinence based recovery. These three pilots will provide more evidence on ‘recovery communities’; how to develop them and what makes them effective. Comic Relief will also be awarding a number of small grants up to £5,000 to a range of groups run by people in recovery, and other organisations for projects which help people sustain recovery and address stigma.

Gilly Green, Head of UK Grants at Comic Relief said: “Comic Relief has supported those facing addiction for many years. We’re looking forward to finding out more about the potential of recovery communities through these pilots and hearing more inspiring stories about how they can help people to recover from addiction.”

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