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Birmingham Drug And Alcohol Team, based in Aston in Birmingham, are planning to launch a new quarterly pan-Birmingham newsletter, written and edited by those recovering from drug or alcohol misuse, to be distributed to their partner agencies and to those who may be on their own journeys of recovery.
BDAAT commission drug and alcohol services across Birmingham. Service users from these partner agencies and their carers have the opportunity to come together once a month at a Service User led Recovery Forum for those who have experienced substance misuse. It was at this forum that the idea for the SUGAR (Service User Groups About Recovery) newsletter was born.
The newsletter will be A5 size and will be professionally designed. It will feature articles from their partners, which include Aquarius, Park House and Summer Hill. Service users and carers can also submit stories, testimonies, poems or creative pieces for publication as long as the subject matter is relevant to their personal experiences of the recovery process. BDAAT staff members Mark Spooner and Maxine Ratcliffe will oversee the production of the newsletter, but the actual content will be set by an editorial group made up of five members of the forum who will decide what is to be included through a very well organised and democratic voting system.
Maxine Ratcliffe said: “The articles won’t be edited, so they all sound the same; we want our contributors to have their own voice and be able to express themselves how they want... We’re not sure about printing who is involved with the newsletter or who contributed the articles. Recovery isn’t a straight line - you can go up and down, so we have to consider the future. Obviously, we want all our service users to be able to move on with their lives, and printing names may not actually be helpful”.
Mark Spooner said: “We thought the newsletter was a good idea when it was suggested because writing about your experiences and getting them out there can sometimes be quite cathartic, and sharing experiences can help other people... Our first edition will feature an article from a carer’s perspective which I read out at one of the forum meetings. It really struck a chord - it’s very poignant to see it from a carer’s view point of view.”
The first edition will have a circulation of 4,000 and is set to be published in July 2011. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Service User Involvement Team on 0121 465 493.