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We are proud to announce that we have won a major national award for our work to support the physical and mental health needs of people affected by substance abuse and addiction throughout Lancashire and parts of Cumbria.

Following a rigorous selection and assessment process, Red Rose Recovery Lancashire (RRR) was chosen from more than 400 charities across the UK as one of the 10 winners of the 2023 GSK IMPACT Awards which are delivered in partnership with leading health and care charity The King’s Fund. Now in their 26th year, the awards are a mark of excellence in the charity sector, designed to recognise the outstanding work of small and medium sized charities working to improve people’s health and wellbeing in the UK. This year winners will receive £40,000 in unrestricted funding as well as expert support and leadership development provided by The King’s Fund. 

Approximately 17% of adults in England report drinking to hazardous levels and 3% report being dependent on drugs. As well as the physical health impact of addiction and substance abuse, it also brings mental ill health, criminal offences, financial difficulties, homelessness and breakdowns in relationships with friends and family. Nearly two-thirds of people receiving treatment for substance misuse say they have a mental health need but only a quarter are receiving any treatment.

RRR was created with the support of Lancashire County Council in 2012 by a small group of individuals, family and friends who were affected by addiction but felt they had no say in how local recovery services were run. Since then, the reach and range of activities offered by the charity has grown dramatically, with 5,163 people supported by its services in the year ending March 2022.

RRR’s helps people to recover by building a sense of community and reducing social isolation, tackling stigma and giving individuals purpose, including providing employment skills. Each week the charity runs 50 different groups across 10 locations in Lancashire, including some online groups. They include sports and art activities, walking groups, and training on public speaking. RRR also runs ‘Puzzled Productions’, a weekly soap opera written by and starring staff and people being supported by the charity. The charity also offers an accredited leadership programme, with some of those who complete it going on to receive paid work with the charity as Peer Support Workers.

The Award judges were particularly struck by RRR’s pioneering, ‘peer-led’ approach to sharing the experiences of people in recovery to provide hope and inspiration to others, as well as using that experience to improve addiction and recovery services locally. 90% of the charity’s staff and most of its volunteers have personal experience of recovery from addiction, mental health issues, homelessness or trauma. The judges noted that the charity is deeply involved and visible in the community, encouraging support for its work through volunteering and by helping smaller organisations by offering grants for local projects engaging people in recovery.

Since 2020, Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust has contracted RRR to embed its Peer Support Workers with experience of addiction and the criminal justice system in police stations and prisons. The original pilot was in Preston Police Station and was shown to reduce A&E attendances, calls to emergency services and use of police time. The service is now delivered across nine Lancashire and South Cumbria police stations and all of Lancashire and Cumbria’s prisons. Around half have those recruited to the service by RRR have gone on to secure permanent employment in the NHS.

The award win comes at a time when many local charities find themselves working in a uniquely challenging environment.  The long-term consequences of Covid and the current cost of living crisis are having a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of many local communities, public services are under additional pressure, and charity finances have been hit hard. Despite this RRR has seen significant growth in its outreach and activities over the last year. In the 12 months to 2022, the charity delivered 1,695 group sessions, with an 89% increase in attendances compared to the previous year.

RRR’s partnerships and reach impressed the Award judges, particularly its work delivering large contracts for local NHS and Public Health services. Health service leaders have praised the charity’s unique abilities to reach those who most need support but may not find it easy to access statutory services, such as young men or members of the LGBTQ+ community.  The charity also undertakes regular outreach work with GP surgeries, hostels and supported housing, and most recently is reviewing how it can better target services to Lancashire’s Asian community.

Katie Pinnock, Director, UK Charitable Partnerships at GSK, said: “Red Rose Recovery Lancashire is a hugely ambitious charity doing pioneering work to support the recovery of adults facing multiple challenges due to substance abuse and addiction. Through its strong relationships, particularly with the NHS and criminal justice system, it has grown both its activities and reach at speed to meet the needs of the local community. The charity should be particularly commended for its engagement with those in recovery, with most of its staff and volunteers having experience of the issues it works across.” 

Commenting on the award, Michael Wearden, Managing Director of Red Rose Recovery Lancashire, said: “We’re all extremely proud and honored to receive this award. It’s been an incredibly challenging few years for the majority of our society, not the least those already facing significant disadvantage. The award goes a long way in celebrating and recognising the unwavering efforts of our amazing team of staff and volunteers. Each and every day they go above and beyond to ensure that those most in need within our communities continue to receive support.”

“Most importantly however, the award helps us to highlight the pressing and growing need for alternative pathways of support for people facing multiple disadvantage and how we must involve people with lived experience more in developing, shaping and delivering services.”

Developing leaders in the charity sector is a key aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme and all winners are invited to build on their success and take part in a tailored leadership development programme run by The King’s Fund.