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By Jennie Chapman,

Red Rose Recovery celebrated a decade of inspiring hope, creating opportunity and rebuilding lives this week.

Some 160 staff, volunteers and sector leaders gathered in the Invincibles Lounge at Preston North End stadium on Monday 21st November to mark the charity’s 10-year anniversary, with a programme that included presentations from team leaders, comedy and music performances, and an awards ceremony recognising the tireless efforts of staff and volunteers to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Among the special guests were Chris Rowley, Chief Constable for Lancashire Constabulary; Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council; and Andy Pratt MBE, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire.

The charity also received plaudits from some famous faces, including Elbow frontman Guy Garvey and ‘The Royle Family’ actor Ricky Tomlinson, both of whom sent video messages congratulating Red Rose Recovery on its achievements during the last decade.

Since its inception in 2012, Red Rose Recovery has supported and empowered thousands of people affected by addiction and related adversities, through peer support, training and mentoring, volunteering opportunities, and community engagement projects.

It harnesses the voices of lived experience to advocate for its members, challenge stigma and discrimination, and influence policy decisions across the public health sector.

Over 90% of its staff have direct experience of the issues facing its service users, and this, according to founder Peter Yarwood, is the secret to Red Rose Recovery’s success.

“Lived experience is no longer something to be ashamed of – instead, it’s become something to be embraced and valued,” he said.

“We’ve turned our perceived weakness into our superpower. We’ve built self-esteem by creating opportunities for people who have experienced adversity to give back to, and be part of, society in a truly meaningful way.

“What we do works because of the insight our lived experience gives us. We are able to quickly understand and respond to the situation people find themselves in – often, that means just hearing and seeing the other person and getting beyond the labels society has placed on them.”

From humble beginnings with just five members of staff, Red Rose Recovery now employs around 100 people across a variety of settings, including police custody suites, mental health services, homeless shelters and hostels, and rehabilitation facilities.

It now has offices in Preston, Accrington, Lancaster and Blackburn, and runs some 40 support and activity groups each week in every corner of Lancashire: from Morecambe in the north to Skelmersdale in the south, St. Anne’s in the west and Burnley in the east.

Anyone seeking support for issues related to drug or alcohol misuse, mental health, or criminal justice can get in touch via the website at Self-referrals are welcome.