Darlington’s Independent Living services helped bring Christmas cheer to local families

Jack Keery

An image of an ecstatic child receiving a Christmas present, next to the logos for charities Darlington Independent Living services and Cash for Kids

Humankind’s Darlington Independent Living Services helped to bring some Christmas cheer to local families last year, by distributing Christmas presents that were donated by the Cash For Kids charity.

The services, for people aged 16+, provide support for homelessness, mental health, substance misuse, benefits, temporary accommodation and much more.

Recently, the service helped a family who was evicted just weeks before Christmas. They had managed to secure a new home for themselves and their six children, but with moving costs and new furnishings, there was no money left to buy presents for the children.

Before the family knew that they were going to receive gifts, mum told the children that the new home they would be moving into would be a gift for them all. She also hoped to buy a Christmas tree for the new family home.

But thanks to the support of Cash for Kids and Support for All, the children had some presents to open on Christmas morning.

Temporary Team Accommodation Member, Ginny Dawes, said:

“Mum cried when I explained that we could provide the gifts from Cash For Kids, these presents were really appreciated and the family could not be more grateful. These gifts have ensured that their children would have Christmas presents to open after such a distressing time in their lives. As a staff member, delivering these gifts was heart-warming.

“Being able to access this service means that they can receive good quality presents, and in most cases stops the person from accruing debt or missing important bills. Every child should be able to wake up to at least one present on Christmas morning and cash for kids has made this possible for many of our families.”

Darlington’s Independent Living services include the Positive Support Pathway, Darlington Support for All, Darlington Intensive Mental Health service and Temporary Accommodation service.

You can find more information on the Darlington Independent Living services through the following links:

Read more about Cash For Kids here: cashforkids.org.uk/faqs

Humankind welcomes long overdue investment into drug treatment services

Jack Keery

A blue wall with the words "Humankind- for fair chances" written on it, and an opened door

As one of the largest drug and alcohol charities in England, we welcome the 10-year drug strategy published yesterday which is a significant milestone for the sector and has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the country. 

The Government noted in their announcement that the £780 million in funding that they have committed will rebuild the sector and that is what we need to do – rebuild. A decade of disinvestment and sporadic funding has decimated drug and alcohol services at a time when demand has increased and the number of people dying has risen by almost 80 per cent. This new strategy will help us get back on our feet but there is a lot of catching up to be done, especially in light of the pandemic which was not factored into the Dame Carol Black Review and has caused disproportionate harm to people who use drugs. 

Humankind is committed to rebuilding services and going further by developing and improving services to expand the evidence base trial new ways of working. In short, we recognise the need to rebuild and improve services and use this new investment to reach more people. 

We greatly welcome the Government’s intention to fast-track funding to the areas of greatest need, including seaside towns and cities in the North of England, where people are far more likely to die as a result of drugs. For too long postcodes and poverty levels have impacted the treatment that someone can receive, and targeted investment will help address this. 

Despite the much-heralded crime and enforcement elements of yesterday’s announcement, this strategy indicates that the Government has begun to recognise that drug use is also a health issue. Drug use is often the result of a toxic combination of poverty, social exclusion, trauma and instability – and incarceration alone is likely to exacerbate rather than cure any of those causes. We strongly support the approach of diverting people from the criminal justice system and into the evidence-based clinical and psychosocial services that have been proven to offer people the best chance of recovery. 

A third of people who use opiates are experiencing housing problems and two-thirds of people who use drugs report having a mental health issue. We are pleased that the Government will be investing in a range of supports that will connect people to a network of expert providers to help people sustain their recovery and is the way we have worked for more than 30 years, providing housing, training and work opportunities, and support for people leaving the prison system, in addition to treatment services. As a leading provider of the Individual and Placement Support employment scheme it is great news that these will be expanded to every local authority. 

While this strategy contains few bold new ideas, it does provide the funding, support and commissioning standards that the sector has been requesting for many years. And, most importantly of all, this strategy will save lives, help people to build resilient futures and ensure the most marginalised members of society get the support they need.  

It is now up to all those working in the sector to use the extra investment to shape and develop service delivery so that we have more impact on more people by expanding the evidence base and the range of services we offer. 

We thank Dame Carol Black for putting forward the recommendations that brought about this strategy, and we are grateful to all our partners in the sector that will join us in implementing it and helping move the sector forward. 

Paul Townsley, CEO of Humankind

Christmas Appeal 2021

Jack Keery

At Humankind, we work every day of the year to support people in crisis, providing healthcare, emergency shelter, food, safety, security, and essential advice. A person in need accesses one of our services every 6 minutes, and Christmas time is no different.

In fact, the festive season is one of the most challenging times for many of the vulnerable people we support, as they cope with poverty, homelessness, loneliness, and isolation.

You can, however, support our vital work by donating to our Christmas appeal, to ensure that we can go the extra mile this winter.

Please visit our GivePenny page to make an online donation. Your donation will go directly towards helping those in need or at risk of harm this Christmas.

Alternatively, you can donate via text message by texting HKXMAS followed by your donation amount (HKXMAS 20, for example, to give £20) to 70450.

Texts will cost the donation amount plus one standard network rate message, and you’ll be opting into hearing about Humankind news in the future via telephone and SMS. If you would like to donate, but do not wish to hear more from us, please text HKXMASNOINFO, followed by your donation amount.

A donation to our Christmas appeal will go directly to help those most in need or at risk of harm. Please note, the following donation guides are intended as examples of our work only, and your donation may also be used in other ways to help the people we support.

  • £10 could allow us to provide a pack of essential items, including personal hygiene and sanitary products, to someone sleeping on the streets.
  • £20 could contribute towards our national service user fund, providing emergency funding for people in extreme hardship.
  • £50 could completely transform Christmas for a family in poverty, providing basic food and shelter.

Thank you for your kindness this Christmas.

Recovery Story: Greg at The Greens (Sheffield Recovery Focused Accommodation)

Jack Keery

Greg, a resident at The Greens, in their garden

Greg is a resident at The Greens, Humankind’s recovery focused accommodation in Sheffield. Before Greg accessed support at The Greens, his alcohol dependency had made him extremely ill. In his own words, he was “close to death”.

Now, Greg is enjoying life and recently even took part in a ‘Way of the Roses’ sponsored bike ride to raise money for us as a charity, to help others access the same support he received. He wanted to tell his story for Alcohol Awareness Week, in the hope that it might inspire others to make a change to their drinking habits.

“I have come a long way with the help of The Greens… My life is changed so much now.”

If you need help with drug and alcohol dependency in Sheffield, find out how to access free and confidential support by clicking this link.

Recovery Story: Sophie at STARS (Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service)

Jack Keery

Sophie at Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service talking about her recovery journey

For Alcohol Awareness Week, we caught up with Sophie, an inspirational young woman who has been supported by Humankind STARS (Staffordshire Treatment and Recovery Service) for her alcohol dependency.

Her recovery story is one of perseverance, after first accessing support around five years ago. Sophie opens up about how alcohol affected her life, health, and relationships, and how her parents and keyworker at STARS have helped her secure a brighter future.

I don’t think I could do how well I’ve done without my keyworker at STARS. She’s really, really made a difference. It’s so important knowing I can call any time of the day and just let things out… it helps me get through.

If you need help with drug and alcohol dependency in Staffordshire, find out how to access free and confidential support by clicking this link.

Humankind joins London Winter Walk 2022 – fundraise for us!

Jack Keery

People taking part in the Ultra Challenge's Winter Walk

Humankind is taking part in a fantastic fundraising event to walk off the Christmas celebrations, kick start our New Year fitness regime, and boost our wellbeing.

We will be joining the Ultra Challenge’s Winter Walk half marathon (East Loop) at 10am on Saturday 29th January 2022 – and you can too!

Starting and finishing at The Oval Cricket Ground, the Winter Walk half marathon (East Loop) is a 21km loop past Tower Bridge to Southwark Park, and includes highlights of the Thames, its historic bridges, and many of the Capital’s key landmarks.

Families are welcome. You even get a free winter bobble hat and neck buff, snacks at rest stops, and a special medal and hot food at the finish.

The medal you receive when you complete the Winter Walk, with the finish line in the background.

Join as an individual or as a team, and choose to support Humankind from the list of charities when you sign up for the Winter Walk.

This event is strictly walking only – so no jogging or running is allowed.


1. Charity Sponsorship – you pay a small registration fee, do lots of fundraising and we cover the cost of your event place.
Half marathon: Registration fee £7.50 / fundraising target £155

2. Mixed Funding – pay half of the event place cost yourself, fundraise a bit less and we pay the balance of the event place cost.
Half marathon: Registration fee £29.50 / fundraising target £100

3. Self Fund – you pay the full cost of the event place – fundraise whatever you want, with no set target or deadline, and there’s no cost at all to Humankind!
Half marathon: £59 (£44 12-17 year old price)

For full details of prices and to sign up, head to: https://ultrachallenge.com/london-winter-walk

If you prefer to use a paper sponsorship form rather than the Winter Walk’s JustGiving platform, you can download one to print here.

Humankind retains Investing in Volunteers Award

Jack Keery

We are delighted to reveal that Humankind has been successful in retaining our Investing in Volunteers award for a third time.

Humankind first gained the award in 2015 and underwent our second renewal in August 2021, demonstrating our commitment to volunteering as a national charity.

“Supporting volunteers runs throughout all Humankind’s teams, services, and projects, and is embedded in the organisation’s ethos and values.”

Our assessor sought evidence against six quality areas: vision, planning, inclusion, recruitment and induction, support, and valuing and developing volunteers.

Evidence was gathered through a self-assessment, a portfolio and three days of interviews. Twenty-six volunteers shared their experience of volunteering at Humankind.

“I have better support here than all the jobs I’ve ever had, the staff here that go that extra mile – fantastic.” Humankind volunteer 

As an organisation, we take great pride in our Volunteer Programme and our offer to each individual volunteer.

“We are definitely made to feel part of the team, all the staff and all the volunteers are great, it feels like I’m part of a really big, happy family.” – Humankind volunteer

As Humankind have invested in support for people’s wellbeing, we have done the same for volunteers. This was recognised during the assessment, which stated:

“There is recognition that the continuous support volunteers enjoy has a huge positive impact on the recruitment of volunteers, their wellbeing, their personal development, retention of volunteers, and their feeling of being valued.”

We want to give a huge thank you to our Volunteer Coordinators, Leads and Supervisors for delivering an award winning Volunteer Programme!

Humankind’s 2020/21 Volunteer Programme at a glance:

• We appointed 97 new volunteers.
• Our volunteers have kindly given 10,604 hours of their own time to support others – that’s 209 hours every week of the year!
• 17 of our volunteer leavers left to enter education, training or employment.
• 7 (41%) of those who entered employment accepted roles within Humankind services.

Read more in our 2020/21 Impact Report.

National Work Life Week at Humankind

Jack Keery

Supporting our people to have a good work-life balance is a priority at Humankind. We want to make sure that everyone is able to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, and we understand that a good work-life balance plays a key part in this.

For National Work Life Week 2021, we asked our staff: “what does work-life balance mean to you?”

The answers we received were diverse and many contained helpful tips for others on finding the right balance between work and leisure time, so we wanted to share them.

“For me, work-life balance is being able to give it my all at work, but then being able to disconnect and still have the time and energy to spend time with my family and friends, cook nice meals and take my dogs out for long walks.”
– Kerry Kirsopp, People Experience Manager

“Work-life balance to me is the ability to have the positive coping mechanisms outside of the working environment. The ability to engage in seeing friends, family, attending the gym, meditating, attending sport, playing my instruments. Although ultimate life is life the application of having time to do things you enjoy is very important, have a balance to me is the essence of that.”
Craig McMullen, BRiC Worker, South Tyneside Adult Recovery Service

“Work-life balance is being able to find the balance between work and family/leisure activities that is suitable to my current circumstances.”
– Colin Grainger, Support Coordinator

“Work-life balance for me is the ability to switch off work mode at the end of the working day and turn on home mode. As I am currently WFH, I feel it’s really important to put away all my work “stuff” when not working so the two don’t blur.”
– Mim Arbia, Regional Trainer, Learning & Development Team.

“Work-life balance for me is about focusing on time for myself and my wellbeing both inside and outside the work environment. This involves starting the day with a mindfulness audio, taking lunch breaks outside the building and mindful breathing when needed when I am at work. Outside work I spend time in the garden, take regular exercise, go for walks, and see friends and family.”
– Sara Langstaff, Recovery Coordinator, North Yorkshire Horizons

“Now more than ever, its vitally important to strike a good work life balance and I achieve this by working a 4 day week. I’m really grateful to Humankind for allowing me this flexibility as it enables me to spend precious time with my two boys”
– Manish Nanda, Executive Director, London & South

“Work-life balance to me is to have an interest outside work. I like walking my greyhound and do sea swims as well as pilates.”
– Francisca Veale, EDP

“I think it’s important to have a supportive and understanding employer that accepts and works with the ‘whole me’ and not just the ’employee me’. My ideal work-life balance is being able to switch off at the end of the working day whilst remaining flexible to personal and professional need.”
– Ann Hall, Volunteer Development Manager

“To me, work-life balance means having enough separation between work life and personal life in order to maintain my wellbeing, with an acceptance that we all have different circumstances and may need some flexibility to balance the two in a positive and healthy way.”
– Chantal Renn, Volunteer Coordinator

“I maintain a good work life balance by working a 4 day week.  Humankind agreed to this from my first day in my role, and this allows me to have 4 days focusing on being a People Director for the organisation, and 1 day a week where I can focus on my two girls and home life without worrying about work!”
Kathryn Summerfield, Director of People

So how exactly do we support our staff’s work-life balance?

We have many things in place to support wellbeing and to ensure our workforce are able to maintain a good work life balance:

Work Life Balance Policy – ensuring our employees are able to have meaningful discussions with their line manager about ways to work more flexibly to support a good work life balance and everyone can do this from their first day of employment with us.

Annual Leave Entitlement – we have a very generous annual leave entitlement – 27 days, increasing to 32 days after the first year of service.  We understand the importance of time off, whether this is to recharge your batteries or spend time doing things you love.

Annual Leave Purchase Scheme – we also offer the option to purchase an additional 5 days leave each year.

Happy Healthy You! – we have a very comprehensive wellbeing offer, which we call Happy Healthy You! This is full of information, support, guidance and campaigns to ensure that your health and wellbeing is prioritised and supported to lead happier, healthier lives.

Supportive Culture – we encourage people to have open and honest conversations about how they are feeling and to access the support that is available to them.

Talk to you – we actively seek feedback from our workforce about what works for them, and what else we can do as an employer to support work life balance and wellbeing.

Humankind publishes Impact Report for 2020/21 with outstanding satisfaction rates

Jack Keery

Humankind published a report on the impact we have had as a national charity on the lives of the 85,957 people who accessed our services, as well as our volunteers and staff, during the last year.

We are a national charity with over 1,300 staff and around 100 volunteers, providing specialist services located across the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, the North West, Staffordshire, London and the South West.

These include services aimed at improving peoples’ health, housing and living conditions, work and skills opportunities, and relationship with the criminal justice system, as well as services for young people and families.

An individual accessed our support services every 6 minutes during the last year, while 12 people per day completed treatment from our services drug or alcohol free.

Despite the sizeable challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a lot to celebrate as an organisation, underlined by high satisfaction rates recorded from a survey of 2,014 people who access Humankind’s services, our staff, and volunteers:

  • 99% of people who accessed our services said that they felt respected by staff.
  • 99% of people who accessed our services said that staff had the right skills to support them to achieve their goals.
  • 98% of people who accessed our support said they felt safe within our services.
  • 98% of people who accessed our services said that they received the support they needed from us.
  • 96% of people who accessed our services felt their suggestions for improvement were taken on board.
  • 99% of staff surveyed felt they had good working relationships with people in their team.
  • 97% of staff surveyed felt valued within those teams.

During 2020/21 we successfully launched the North Yorkshire Young Persons Substance Use Service and Criminal Justice Diversionary Services (Men’s Services); Greater Manchester Housing First service; Thriving at Work (subcontracted to Your Consortium); and the Teesside Peer Mentor community peer support service.

Paul Townsley, CEO of Humankind, said: “I am incredibly proud of the scale and volume of the impact we have had over the last year, which is reinforced by the feedback received from people that we work with.

I would particularly like to thank staff and partners for working collaboratively and imaginatively to continue to deliver services during the Covid pandemic. We have learnt so much in the most challenging of times and we emerge from the last year much clearer on how we can further improve our services.”

A person who accessed our drug and alcohol support services said:

“It’s good for your recovery. The days fly by. It creates opportunities to have a chat with people about their health and wellbeing. And it takes as long as it takes. There’s no pressure.”

A young person who accessed our LGBT+ support services said:

“I like how everyone is so kind and accepting and how we share experiences. I have never felt as supported and cared about. Your services are vital.”

Humankind is now in Year 4 of a 5-year strategy and starting to prepare for our new 5-year strategy 2023-28.

Read Humankind’s full Impact Report for 2020/21 here.

Humankind launches new drug and alcohol recovery services across Cumbria

Jack Keery

A free and confidential service offering a range of support and interventions for people whose lives are affected by drug and alcohol use and other addictions is launching today in Cumbria.

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

Ted Haughey, Executive Director of Operations for Humankind, said:

“As one of the biggest substance misuse charities in England, we are proud to be offering vital recovery services to people living in Cumbria. We are very excited to be working in partnership with The Well and feel that together we will have a positive impact across Cumbria where individuals, their families and communities have been affected by addiction. Sadly, in recent years Cumbria has followed the national trend of increasing drug and alcohol related deaths. We hope that by providing a comprehensive service that offers individualised recovery plans we can stop this worrying trend.”

Humankind and The Well Communities have been commissioned to deliver the service by Cumbria County Council.

Cllr Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said:

“Humankind and The Well bring huge national and local experience to supporting people affected by drug, alcohol and other addictions and it’s this combination that is so exciting about this new service. Addiction can be devastating for individuals, but also for families and friends. Recovery Steps Cumbria will be able to provide the support that people need to move on and improve their lives, right across the county. I would encourage anyone who needs support to get in touch and find out about the services available.”

People will be able to access services from a range of sites across the county including Carlisle, Workington, Whitehaven and Barrow-in-Furness, as well as satellite offices in Penrith and Kendal. In addition, services will be delivered through community venues and in partnership with GPs and pharmacists. Support will be provided by trained professionals, including staff and volunteers who have lived experience of recovery from addictions.

Dave Higham, Founder and CEO of the Well Communities, said:

“We are so excited with this partnership and the opportunity to bring our already established service in South Cumbria to the rest of the county. We believe together we can bring about change for those that have been entrenched in addiction and want a new way of life. Within this partnership we will use lived experience as a flagship of hope, that people do and can recover.”

The previous service was provided through Unity, and any clients who were previously receiving support from Unity will be able to continue their recovery journey with Recovery Steps Cumbria.

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.

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