Written by Victoria (Roots Community Volunteer), and the Roots Team;
The monthly Roots Community Forum was held on the 25th January 2023 at St Luke’s church on Banktop, Blackburn. In attendance there was 65, some of whom were newcomers! The audience was made up by various services such as CVS, Healthwatch and Active Lancashire, alongside those residing in hostels such as Salvation Army, the THOMAS project rehab and members of the community.
To begin, there was an attendance of 24 people at around 10:30am when Rolonde introduced the Forum and outlined the agenda for the day. As we had the privilege of using the facilities at St Luke’s new church, Rachel, the Youth Resourcing Lead introduced and warmly welcomed us to the new venue. She also was very enthusiastic about being involved in helping the recovery community and thanked us for attending.
We held interview style shares by 3 of our current volunteers/Roots members which included them sharing their background information on their addiction/mental health issues/previous criminality and how they got into their journey of recovery. Barriers and setbacks they faced were also included which led them on to discuss the positive support and opportunities they have had from Roots and other recovery based organisations. The shares ended with the individuals plans for the future to inspire and encourage others who have been in similar situations.
During our lunch break, we had a buffet style from Flavours catering services, which while those in attendance was grabbing their lunch in the ‘chill out’ room upstairs consisting of beanbags, brews and lots of space, one of the THOMAS project residents played some rhythm and blues on his guitar and singing his own compositions.
After the lunch break, a resident from Salvation Army informed us of a new project upcoming on the 9th February called Phoenix Hub- which is a new drop-in space consisting of washrooms, housing and mental health support, help with food and clothing and much more. This was positively received by the audience.
Every month we have on average 2 applications for the Community Asset Fund being discussed within the Forum. This month we had an application from Mo from Youth Awareness Project for community fridge freezers. Next we had Victoria who is currently a volunteer for Roots Community who was applying for £1,600 to set up a women’s only group called ‘The Wonder Women’s group’ for central Blackburn as we had noticed that there was a gap in provision and a common topic amongst women in recovery. The full amount was agreed by those in attendance at the forum for both and the applications were successful in the first part of the two stage application process.
Finally, we had two members of Creative Football who had personal experience in substance misuse and mental health issues sharing their journeys and how their organisation has benefitted them using football.
Overall, there was a positive atmosphere amongst attendees and lots of inspirational information was shared providing hope and support to those in recovery.