A network of friends and supporters who have shared experiences, and a commitment to staying away from drugs and crime, is essential to maintaining recovery. The ‘anonymous’ fellowships of those in 12 step recovery programmes, as well as Forward Trust’s own network, Forward Connect, keep thousands of people in contact through social events, reunions and mentoring schemes.

Community support is particularly powerful when it has a local focus. In Hull and East Kent, Forward Connect enables groups of people in recovery to come together in local areas to help each other, as well as contribute positively to the communities they live in.

Every town should have a local recovery network, that harnesses the skills and energy of people who have overcome lives of crime or addiction. These mutual aid networks are just as important as formal treatment in supporting people to turn their lives around – and are much cheaper.

For an estimated £50 million – less than 10% of the current national treatment budget – the government could fund the development of a strong recovery community in every part of the country – providing inspiration, strength and support to tens of thousands of former offenders and addicts, and their families. All around the country, there are networks of positive support for people in recovery and their families, but they are small and underfunded. To unleash their full potential in helping people to successfully turn their lives around, government investment is needed.

Join More Than My Past in urging government to take action now. 

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