Jim Black to step down as Humankind’s Chair of Trustees

Ellie Lambert

After 37 years Jim Black, Humankind’s Chair of Trustees, will be stepping down at the end of March 2022 and will be succeeded by Caroline Gitsham, who has been on the Humankind board for the last three years.   

Jim Black said: “As an early member of Humankind, then DISC, in 1984, little did I realise what a significant and impressive organisation it would become today. I am immensely proud of our multi-thematic offer and all that we are able to do to help and support people move forwards with their lives. It has been a huge privilege and pleasure to work with so many passionate and impressive people over the years.  

“I am delighted that Caroline will be taking over the role and I am sure that she will bring a renewed vibrancy to our trustee board.” 

Caroline has a background in housing and homelessness from the public sector and is passionate about making a difference having worked with a variety of partners in her career including in an advisory capacity to the government and other bodies. 

Caroline Gitsham said: “I am honoured to be the new Chair of Trustees for Humankind and have big shoes to fill following Jim’s leadership. I am very much looking forward to the challenge and immensely proud to be leading such a successful organisation with an extremely dedicated workforce.   

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Humankind board and look forward to leading the organisation as it develops and delivers its new five-year strategy in April 2023.” 

Paul Townsley, Humankind CEO, said “I cannot thank Jim enough for his unwavering leadership to Humankind and for his part in making it the successful national charity that it is today. On behalf of myself and the rest of the Executive team I would like to wish him all the best for the future.”  

“Caroline brings a wealth of experience and I am sure under her careful guidance Humankind will continue to grow and flourish.” 

New drug and alcohol recovery service in Cumbria welcomes people seeking help this Alcohol Awareness Week

Ellie Lambert

Recovery Steps Cumbria, a service that supports people who use alcohol and drugs, is encouraging people to get in touch if they need help recovering from substance use.

The service has helped more than 530 people since it opened on October 1 and hopes that Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from November 15-22nd, will lead to more people seeking their help.

Despite levels of alcohol consumption in Cumbria being higher than the national average, findings by Public Health England estimate that four in five alcohol-dependent adults do not access alcohol treatment.

Speaking about the support offered by Recovery Steps Cumbria, Area Manager Becky White said: “Alcohol Awareness Week is an ideal time for people to think about the amount they are drinking and consider whether it is having a negative impact on their life. People can take our Drink Coach alcohol test to work out how risky their drinking is and if they want to seek support we provide a free, confidential and non-judgemental service for anyone who needs support.”

Recovery Steps Cumbria is run by Humankind in partnership with The Well Communities and is funded by Cumbria County Council. It offers a range of services including clinical, health and wellbeing support, access to work and skills opportunities, and connections to housing.

Deborah Earl, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities said: “When someone regularly drinks more than the recommended daily units of alcohol we can expect that they and their family will experience poorer health and wellbeing. Humankind’s innovative Drink Coach mobile app is one way people can determine if they are drinking too much, and if they are Recovery Steps Cumbria is available to support them to recover.”

Support at Recovery Steps Cumbria is provided by trained professionals, including staff and volunteers who have lived experience of addictions. There are services across Cumbria including Carlisle, Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow-in-Furness, as well as satellite offices in Penrith and Kendal.

More information about Recovery Steps Cumbria, including details of how to access the service, can be found at: www.humankindcharity.org.uk/service/recovery-steps-cumbria.

To find out more about Drink Coach and take the alcohol test, visit https://drinkcoach.org.uk/.


Local MP visits new Women’s Recovery Academy to mark Alcohol Awareness Week

Ellie Lambert

Ahead of Alcohol Awareness Week, which started yesterday, Richard Holden MP visited an innovative substance use support centre that is helping local women recover from drug and alcohol use.

The visit to Humankind’s Women’s Recovery Academy provided the North West Durham MP with the opportunity to speak to people who use the service and find out more about the evidence-based programme they are part of.

The service, which is funded by Durham County Council, supports women through a 12-week programme that helps them gain the skills and knowledge to maintain their recovery in the community.

The programme includes behaviour change techniques, such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy skills, as well as offering peer-to-peer support which helps people learn from others who have been through the programme and are who are doing well.

“It was great to visit the Women’s Recovery Academy in Consett”, said Richard Holden MP. “It is vital that our local services are there for people who are facing real problems in their lives. What was especially brilliant was to meet some of the women on the ground who have faced their issues head on and are now helping others on their path to recovery.”

“I want to thank Humankind for the role they play in making positive changes for better-connected communities across North West Durham”, Mr Holden added.

Louise, who received support from Humankind’s drug and alcohol recovery services and is now volunteering with the charity, spoke about her experience of alcohol use: “I was a functional alcoholic with a 40-year drinking history. Being in my 50s I was embarrassed to ask for help but I’ve been sober for two years now, with a purpose and new outlook on life.  If I can do it anyone can do it – seeing is believing”.

The Women’s Recovery Academy is one of several Humankind services that operate in the County Durham area and currently they are supporting a combined total of more than 1,850 people with their drug and alcohol recovery.

“It was a pleasure to welcome Richard Holden MP to the Academy today and showcase the impact that thriving community programmes, such as this one, can make in helping people continue their recovery journey”, said Paul Townsley, CEO of Humankind. “With ever increasing rates of drug and alcohol use, the need for well-funded, comprehensive support services such as the Women’s Recovery Academy is greater than ever, and we hope that this service can continue to grow.”

Humankind is one of England’s drug and alcohol recovery providers and every day 12 people complete treatment within one of their free and confidential services. In addition to substance use programmes, the charity also provides housing, support for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and assistance with work, training and skills.

To find out more about Humankind’s services in your region visit www.humankindcharity.org.uk.

Renewed partnership ensures ongoing support for young people and families impacted by substance misuse

Ellie Lambert

Two programmes that provide health, wellbeing and support services to young people who use alcohol and drugs, or whose parents do, continue to flourish thanks to new funding from Haringey Council.

Last month, Humankind was recommissioned to keep delivering the successful Insight Platform and Insightful Families initiatives which have provided drug and alcohol recovery support to more than 1,200 people since 2013.

The Insight Platform is aimed at young people up to the age of 21 who live in Haringey and are affected by drug or alcohol issues, and provides free and confidential support, information and advice. While Insightful Families supports whole family approaches to understanding the impact of parental alcohol use on children, parents, family, friends and carers.

“We are delighted to have retained the contract to deliver the Insight Platform and Insightful Families in Haringey, as it means that we can continue to provide free, flexible and judgement free support to young people and families in the borough”, said Joanna Choi, Operations Director at Humankind.

“The services that we offer not only help young people achieve their potential and be empowered to make healthy and safe decisions, these programmes also build resilient and strong families and communities”, Choi added.

Speaking about the service, Sarah Hart, Senior Public Health Commissioner at the London Borough of Haringey, said: “Children affected by substance misuse in Haringey need the help that experts like Humankind can provide. We know that around 73 per cent of alcohol dependent adults living with children do not access treatment and available help, that is what we want to change.”

As well as providing workshops and one-to-one support directly to young people and their families, Insight Platform also offers professionals, schools and community groups a variety of training advice and support including the impacts of drugs and alcohol on children, families and communities.

In addition to maintaining the previous level of service, Humankind will also recruit a new Digital Recovery Worker to provide an innovative online offer.

Of the almost 1,000 young people who have worked with the Insight Platform team, 82 per cent of them have achieved their targets. Speaking about the difference that the service made to her, one young woman said: “I feel more confident in myself. Every time I come in here there’s a smile on everyone’s face, it’s like a whole big family.”

Humankind is the second biggest drug and alcohol recovery services charity in England and they have been commissioned by Haringey Council to continue delivering services in Haringey for the next four years.

Humankind launches new minimum standards for needle exchanges and harm reduction services

Ellie Lambert

A woman working as a health care provider.

This week we issued a new set of standards for needle and syringe provision across all the organisation’s substance misuse facilities.

The minimum standards will ensure full and equitable reach of comprehensive harm reduction services to all who use substances. The standards are part of a number of harm reduction initiatives that support Humankind’s commitment to improving interactions with service users and helping to save lives.

Speaking about the new guidelines, Stacey Smith, Director of Nursing at Humankind, said: “I’m proud to say that our services already operate at a high standard, but we want to ensure that our needle and syringe provision are among the best in the sector.

“Sadly since the start of COVID we have seen a decline in the number of people accessing our needle and syringe programmes and we want to change this. These services play a crucial role in reducing drug related deaths and reinfection rates for Hepatitis C, providing the life-saving drug naloxone, and providing a route into treatment services. They also provide our staff and volunteers with the opportunity to connect people with housing, primary health and other specialist services”, Smith added.

The new standards are intended to improve equitable access to needle and syringe provision and reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people who use substances.

The new guidelines have been welcomed by others working in the sector. “I am delighted to see drive to improve the care we offer to some of our most vulnerable members of society”, said Professor Graham Foster, Professor of Hepatology at Queen Mary University of London and National Clinical Chair for the Hepatitis C Delivery Networks.

“Preventing avoidable harms by high quality needle exchange is one of the most effective ways of improving health and reducing costs and this initiative will help in our goals to build back better after the pandemic”, Foster added.

The needle and syringe provision standards can be downloaded here.

Humankind maintains matrix Standard accreditation across North East services

Ellie Lambert

Humankind has been praised for the services it provides to marginalised people in the North East.

Following a recent review of the information, advice and guidance that Humankind offers across their Work and Skills services, the charity has retained its matrix Standard accreditation in recognition of its continued high quality of work providing information, advice and guidance to support individuals to make informed choices and access opportunities.

The matrix Standard is the international benchmark for organisations that provide advice and support services that help people in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals.

Humankind offers a wide range of work and skills services across the region including, National Careers Service North East, Reaching Out Across Durham (ROAD), Step Forward Tees Valley (SFTV), Moving On Tyne and Wear and Action Towards Inclusion (ATI) in North Yorkshire. Together these services have provided support to over 4500 people since Humankind’s previous matrix assessment in 2016.

Speaking about the accreditation, Clare Lynn, Director of Services at Humankind, said: “Our Work and Skills services have held the matrix Accreditation Quality Standard since 2006, and while our services and the way we deliver them may have changed, our commitment to maintaining this industry wide standard has only become stronger.

We know effective information, advice and guidance support can make a huge impact on the decisions and choices individuals make, so it’s essential and hugely rewarding to know that we at Humankind do this to the highest standard.

Demonstrating compliance with the Matrix Standard is a significant piece of work and can only be met by delivering against all elements on a daily basis – something our team members do with huge enthusiasm and skill. I’d like to thank all team members across our IAG services for delivering a fantastic assessment report.”

Roger Chapman, Head of the matrix Service for The Growth Company, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Humankind and I would like to congratulate the team on their success. We believe that at the heart of high-quality advice and support services are strong leadership, excellent service and a focus on continuous improvement, all underpinned by effective use of the resources available.

The matrix Standard is designed to benchmark organisations against best practice in these areas. With their accreditation success, Humankind is working to provide the best possible support to their clients.”

Humankind’s long-established employment, training and education programmes partner with agencies such as Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Education Funding Agency (EFA) and a range of prime providers. A number of services are funded via the Building Better Opportunities National Lottery and ESF programme.

With the support of this funding and partners, the charity delivers specialist support for people with a range of support needs and complexities, including long term unemployment, offending, drug and alcohol use and physical and mental health issues who may face barriers to entering education, training or employment.

The report highlighted that the Humankind team are “passionate about ensuring they meet the individual needs of participants,” and that “they go over and beyond to support them achieve their goals and help them to progress.”

As part of the accreditation process, several participants were interviewed and shared powerful testimonials about how the programme has helped to transform their lives.

One participant said: “I’ve never had so much time spent on me – I was flabbergasted at the amount of support and time I’ve had. They help to build you back up as a person, not just target into employment like other places – they are interested in my circumstances.”

For more information about the matrix Standard, please visit: www.matrixStandard.com.

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