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I first came to the CADAS offices in Carlisle as a volunteer client for someone else’s taped counselling session on the recovery support worker course. (This is something every recovery support volunteer has to do as part of their final assessment and we are so grateful to people who are prepared to put themselves forward for an hour to do this.) I came in to help a trainee, but my mother had an alcohol dependency and so I found myself picking up a family support leaflet for myself that same day.
A while later, when my mother sadly died of an alcohol-related illness, I decided to do the training myself to help others and the rest as they say is history.
Among the many things I’ve done over the years is help CADAS move offices, deliver what used to be called the Stage 1 training a few times and facilitated on around 5 or 6 of the Stage 2s (now the Understanding and Working with Addictive Behaviours 14-week course). I initially facilitated on, and then ran, the Family Support Group in Carlisle and worked with the Art and Creative Writing groups. I’ve also stood behind (and in front of!) the CADAS stand at several Prides and Freshers’ Weeks and a few other events.
I love the ethos of CADAS as an organisation and the genuine empathy and consideration and respect for others that are the building blocks for change that are at the core of what we do. CADAS has always been a light in the darkness for me and so many others.
It was the first place I went the day after I was flooded out of my house during Storm Desmond where I just went knowing I could just sit safely in a warm room among friends and eat a hot meal away from the madness. And equally the warm messages of concern from Lois during this terrible pandemic have often turned around some of my darkest days so I thank you for that.
I couldn’t imagine not being involved with CADAS in some way well into the future. Now more than ever organisations like CADAS will be vital in the recovery of the mental health of the country as we gradually come out of this national crisis.
One of the greatest benefits for me of volunteering with CADAS is that sense of family and friendship I have gained from a decade of volunteering with such a great organisation.