This autumn, the LITE course will be relaunched under the banner of LIFE.
Since its inception LITE has provided basic training for employment for clients primarily with a history of homelessness and addiction. In recent years, due to the changing benefit and employment climate, and the need for early recovery life skills support, we have shifted our focus. We have seen a need to teach life skills within a recovery context, where work is a component of healthy recovery rather than the goal of recovery. So LITE has become LIFE, an emphasis on positive life skills for positive recovery, and not just about ‘not using’ drugs/alcohol.
We have also witnessed a great desire for human connection from our clients and it is this desire for connection that is at the heart of LIFE. The commitment to making a connection with the clients we work with starts with the staff and volunteers. The Joseph Rowntree report “Tackling homelessness and exclusion: Understanding complex lives” states that “persistent encouragement and support is key to homeless individuals with complex needs, committing to meaningful change and successfully overcoming the often formidable barriers they face”.
We are committed to them and the process. The process involves five LIFE modules which explore self-care, positive thinking, healthy relationships, life management and ‘telling your story’. These modules, plus recreational and volunteering activities, build up the client’s “recovery capital” (the sum of resources necessary to initiate and sustain recovery from substance misuse).
The Rowntree report goes on to state that “frequently the roots of many people’s experiences of homelessness and exclusion in adulthood, lay within very troubled childhoods. While it does not follow that all people who experience troubled childhoods will have complex lives or become homeless, childhood experience has a pervasive impact on an individual’s life course.” Providing space to listen, tell their story and even pray is of great therapeutic value to those whose histories are filled with trauma and neglect. For many clients this journey towards a “normal” life (as one client said) has involved faith as part of the healing process. Another client recently said “I have discovered in God the father I never had.”
The LIFE course has also evolved to partner with the Life Recovery Group (LRG). This group was formed around 2009 as a cross church initiative under the Woodlands Church umbrella. It is set in a Christian setting where individuals can find a safe space to grow their faith whilst strengthening their recovery. The group started because there was not enough recovery in the church and not enough church in recovery. Attendees wanted a place to make both church and recovery happen together without pressure. It is again about making connections, which encourages individuals to heal.
There has been a great crossover between LITE and LRG and we expect that this will increase as we run the LIFE course. The group has 60 plus members and runs in Easton on Friday nights, Southmead on Wednesday afternoons and provides a bi-monthly training programme for Christians supporting people in recovery. Our meetings are characterized by sharing, praying, worship and discovering what the Bible says about making those recovery connections real for each person… plus lots of laughter and the occasional outburst!
The Life Recovery Group is called “a family” because in many ways that’s exactly what it is for many members. A place of belonging, acceptance and hope. Our hope for the future is that both LIFE and LRG will grow and be accessible across the city, providing essential recovery life skills and a place to find faith and connections that make life worth living.