Marsh Recovery Awards with Addaction

This is a new Award, run in partnership with Addaction, which seeks to recognise the hard work, dedication and outstanding contribution that people in recovery have made to raising awareness and combatting the stigma associated with substance use.

There are four award categories which are open to anyone in recovery:
• Exceptional Individual in the Field of Recovery
• Exceptional Group in the Field of Recovery
• Exceptional Activity in the Field of Recovery
• Exceptional Media in Challenging the Stigma of Recovery

Addaction is the UK's leading specialist drug and alcohol treatment charity. They offer a wide range of addiction services in England and Scotland, which are free and confidential.

The 2015 winners are Kerrie Hudson, Peer Supporters @ RISE in Devon, Club Soda, Max Daly and Sarah Hepola

Individual Award for Supporting People in Recovery – Kerrie Hudson

Kerrie Hudson was instrumental in setting up The Well in 2012, an organisation which provides housing, structured recovery programmes and social enterprise services across Lancaster, Morecambe and Barrow in Furness areas with a focus on recovery from substance misuse and desistance from offending. Kerrie uses her own experiences relating to substance misuse to help others and she has a track record of being innovative and reducing the stigma associated with substance misuse. Kerrie first volunteered at The Well to show those still in addiction that there is a way out and she now manages both projects in Lancaster and Morecambe.

Group Award for Supporting People in Recovery – Peer Supporters @ RISE Devon

The peer supporters for RISE in Devon have been driving forward the recovery agenda in Devon, challenging stigma and being beacons of recovery. Over the last 12 months, they have set up 11 Recovery Cafes across the county which are being used as a point of contact for service users at different stages of their journeys. They run throughout the week providing free access to a non-judgemental supportive environment where people are welcomed with open arms. The Recovery Cafes are pivotal to the recovery community and act as a hub of positive attitude. They create an environment conducive to personal growth and carry messages of optimism which spreads throughout the whole community. The feedback from service users is palpable and more stories have emerged of people achieving recovery supported by their peers in the cafes sometimes without the services input.

Award for an activity which challenges the stigma of people in recovery – Club Soda

Club Soda is an online platform supporting individuals who want to change their drinking, whether their goal is to cut down, stop for a bit, quit or stick. Laura describes the group as “a bit like Weight Watchers but with booze”. Club Soda launched in January 2015 offering online goal setting and progress tracking tools and community space, informational content, socials, workshops, and events. It is this blended model of online and real world social action that increases members’ chances of success. The club has over 3,000 members signed up to reach their personal drinking goals, and 15 volunteers around the country who run local socials for fellow members. Club Soda’s members are mostly working and retired people and how their problems with alcohol and the possible solutions to the problems are described are important factors for their identity. In order to reach and support the largest possible number of drinkers, the club uses language more associated with healthy lifestyle brands than with the recovery movement.

Media Award: Challenging Stigma for People in Recovery - Max Daly and Sarah Hepola

Max Daly has been awarded this prise for his ongoing column in Vice UK called ‘Narcomania’. Max conducts investigative journalism into the real use of drugs in the UK and in doing so exhibits a tireless interest in the real people behind the figures and the scare stories, and has done important work in calling attention to the importance of harm reduction and the need for policies to be evidence based. The thesis throughout Max’s work is that the politics of global drug policy prevent rational debate and it is drug users who suffer. He suggests the stigma of talking about drugs in an open and honest way contributes to the harm caused and does so in a populist, engaging way.

Sarah Hepola has been awarded this prize for her memoir, ‘Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget’. ‘Blackout’ tells the story of alcohol misuse that is both funny and enlightening. It doesn’t follow the typical path of a journey to ‘rock bottom’, but explores alcohol misuse in a much more familiar manner: wine at professional events, cocktails with friends, after-work drinks. The science of the ‘blackout’ becomes a thread through which Sarah explores her history with alcohol and her subsequent recovery. The book makes a case for toughness and grit as both a valuable characteristic for women and a terrific conduit to self-destruction. While many recovery memoirs often follow a particular structure of blame which turns into self-realisation, Sarah’s prose is lively and funny throughout, even when reflecting on her hard won sobriety.

Pictured: The Peer Supporters at RISE in Devon collecting their award (top), Sarah Hepola (middle), Members of Club Soda taking part in a workshop (bottom)


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Previous Winners:

2014 The Immortals and Amy Jane Smith