Thousands of people will be gathering in Brighton on the 29th of September for the 4th UK Recovery Walk. Inspired by Faces & Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) in the US the 1st UK Recovery Walk took place in Liverpool in 2009. Since then UK Recovery Walks have taken place in September in Glasgow (2010) and Cardiff (2011).
This year’s Walk (planned, organised and delivered by people from the local Recovery Community) has adopted ‘creativity’ as its theme and welcomes all those who want to celebrate and promote recovery (the potential and reality of transformation and renewed meaning) in their communities.
The Walk will be a celebration. It will be fun. It will bring together recovery community members from all over the UK, and for a little while it will make recovery very visible on the streets of Brighton.
So why is visible recovery important?
A fair bit has been written, particularly within mental health recovery, about the importance of hope and optimism within services that seek to become more recovery-orientated and within communities that nurture and build recovery. Larry Davidson, a key figure in mental health recovery, believes that the instilling of hope and optimism is at the heart of recovery and the UKRF has embedded this within its Recovery Principles. By making recovery visible (and I'm talking here about recovery in its widest and most inclusive sense) hope is offered to individuals and communities, a world of new possibilities opens up and evidence is provided that transformation and renewal is possible; recovery is possible. If recovery is to be 'contagious', if it is to spread, we must encounter it in our daily lives within our communities. In a society where unhealthy dependencies are spiralling out of control as communities fragment and fracture, there is an ever increasing need for visible recovery. The UK Recovery Walk represents the beginning of an articulation of an alternative to dependency in all its forms. The walk, along with more and more visible recovery activity within the UK, is beginning to challenge stigma and discrimination through its embracing of diversity, championing of individual and collective strengths and through an emphasis on connections, belonging and community.
Recovery is a communal and social endeavour. New communities and movements grow as they become more visible. Recovery Walks play a significant role in this process. However there is a need to make recovery much more visible within all our communities. The New Economics Foundation (nef) has, having analysed a huge amount of national and international research, identified ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’; Be active, Take notice, Learn, Connect and Give.
The UKRF believes that we need to focus on the assets that support the ‘5 Ways’ for individuals, groups and communities and challenge our current deficit/needs-based culture. In identifying and supporting the assets within our communities that support the ‘5 ways’ we will support new and diverse forms of mutual aid and make recovery visible and accessible for all. We will ensure that Recovery Networks are there for all that are recovering. An asset/strength-based philosophy and practice, grounded in social justice and rooted within communities, will make recovery visible. In embracing it we will all become ‘Recovery Champions’. We will do it together, as equals, making the path as we walk it.