A Day in the Life of a Recovery Worker

Jane Muir offers us a rare look-in to the important work she does with the Recovery Café on Kingston Road, a vital meeting place for Portsmouth’s recovering addicts and alcoholics.

I wake up when the alarm goes off at 6.45. I lie in bed for a few minutes and consider my options. I normally get up fairly quickly so that I have time to go swimming. However I can’t swim at the moment because someone gave me a bone crushing hug last week and I have pulled/torn a muscle. I’ve always had reservations about the huggy touchy feely ethos in the recovery community, and now I know why

I normally skip breakfast when I swim because it helps me manage my diabetes better (it works for me). I decide I deserve something because I’m in pain – I’m aware of the fact that this is totally lacking in logic, but nevertheless I make toast and marmalade.

I normally get to the Recovery Café between 10 and 10.30 am and no two days are alike. This morning ACT Peer Recovery are holding a group so it’s very busy. I have to go to a meeting about collaborating with an art exhibition about addiction. I’m very excited about this because we will be working on raising the profile of the families and carers of addicts and alcoholics, who are the hidden victims of addiction. I feel very strongly that addiction is a family illness and its impact is felt far beyond the individual addict. (I use the word addict as an inclusive term; alcohol is just another drug.)

I get back to the café about 1 pm and have some lunch. At 2 we have a mindfulness and meditation group so it’s quite peaceful for an hour or so. I check my emails and try to respond to them. I’m also trying to help someone fill in a form to get his benefits reinstated, finally getting through to Shelter to try and clarify what constitutes a “priority vulnerable person” with regard to imminent homelessness. Sounds as if our “about to be homeless guy” would qualify. Then again nothing much surprises me about the vagaries of the benefits or housing system.

The guys come down from mindfulness looking very relaxed and I manage to remember to drink a cup of coffee. Someone else needs some assistance with filling in forms and also wants me to help him get a solicitor. He’s got at least three solicitors at the moment and I’m getting a bit bewildered; I suggest that he go to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau as I don’t have the expertise or the time to do this.

I reply to some emails and try do some work on a funding bid. The café shuts at 4.30 but we have an AA Big Book Study this evening so I drop Dave home and go and feed my cat Angel and grab a sandwich. Then it’s back to the café and sorting out the chairs and tea and coffee for the guys attending the group. It’s really well attended and I like the fact that it demonstrates a stage of the recovery process that most people don’t see: addicts and alcoholics being responsible and sorting out resources for themselves.

I know of some groups in this city where people are PAID to attend groups! Our mission statement is: “Addicts doing it for Themselves!” There is something extremely satisfying about seeing that in action. I go to bed sober and content.

Photography by Sarah Cheverton.