Recovery from Addiction

Independence & Wellbeing

Category: News (page 1 of 5)


After the marathon task (excuse the pun!) of running 20 half marathons in 2018 I took a break from blogging about running but continued to run of course! This year has been a different challenge for me as I have been quietly clocking up the miles in my 1200 miles in 12 months challenge. All on schedule with over 850 miles completed so far. As for running half marathons I’ve concentrated on training runs and have covered the 13.1 mile distance 15 times this year so far! So to get back into the events side of things it was the long haul back up to the North East to compete in the 2019 Great North Run for the second time.


Last year I had friends to ferry me around Newcastle and South Shields but this year I decided to take on the services of Nirvana, a GNR travel partner. This involved a coach trip from Nottingham, 1 night’s accommodation in Newcastle University, 13.1 mile run to South Shields to be reunited with the coach and (with a bit of luck) your overnight bag! A really different experience for me travelling with 30 others but something I will happily repeat in 2020 at the 40th GNR. Can’t wait for that one.


“The Annual Attempt to catch Mo Farah – Part 2”


Last year the Great North Run seemed to just pass me by as I was in the middle of a run of 5 half marathons in 6 weeks, to ensure the challenge of running 20 would be completed in Nottingham at the Robin Hood Half. It also turned out to be my slowest of the 20 at 1:55:07. In 2018 I really felt beaten up by the Great North and Mo Farah, so this year I wanted to get even (me v the GNR course) and closer to Sir Mo (me v Mo Farah).


Did I win the battle with Mo? This year it was different. I stood on the start line knowing that I could give Mo a scare, and I did. I got 5 minutes and 50 seconds closer to him this year after running 1:49:17. I consider that a moral victory. Just a mere 50 minutes and 10 seconds off the pace for me! Lifetime PB for him of 59:07 – course PB for me, what could be better? In the end we were all winners. Anyone who trains for and runs 13.1 miles deserves a medal, and in this case everyone receives the same one whether you are Mo or me!


The GNR is the World’s biggest half marathon with 57,000 people registered to run. There is an incredible sense of occasion and even hilarity with everything from Disney’s Incredibles, Scooby Doo (again), a man carrying a bike, Wonder Woman, Rob the Bear (more below) together with tens of thousands of charity runners and me all chasing after Sir Mo, Brigid Kosgei, David Weir and Jade Hall. It’s easy to forget that you are running in the same race as the world’s best athletes.


It is difficult to describe the feeling of unity at the start and throughout the GNR. The support is the best I have experienced at any running event. I’ve not ran the London or New York marathons yet but I continue to enter the ballots. It takes a lot of generosity and effort from the people of Tyneside to ensure that everyone is cheered every step of the way. All of us were grateful for every bit of encouragement and support, not to mention drinks, jelly babies, ice creams and offers of Vaseline to help with any rubs (other good brands of petroleum jelly are of course available!). To each and every supporter, marshal, volunteer, member of the service personnel and organisers we are eternally grateful. You really do put the ‘Great’ in the Great North Run.



Funniest Moment – I met Rob two years ago on the train to Birmingham for number 2 of 20. I then met him at the university the night before the GNR – what are the chances? Then I randomly managed to bump into him again (in a full bear costume – mad in that heat) amongst 50,000 on the Sunday morning- unbelievable! Hope he finished ok.

Best Moments – The start area when they played ‘Mr. Brightside – The Killers’ and all you could see for miles was people’s bouncing heads. Humbled by the support of thousands shouting encouragement. Getting the pacing right this year, I enjoyed it so much more than last time.


Most Inspirational Words – 2Great to see someone running for people that are portrayed so badly in the media. We all know someone who has been touched by addictions – Well done to you!”


WHAT’S NEXT? – Get Involved


Robin Hood Half Marathon – It’s nearly time for our local Half Marathon – The Robin Hood, which takes place on Sunday the 29th of September. There’s a regular team of us taking part so why don’t you join us? There is still time to enter but please get in touch with us this week or it may be too late. Please e-mail us at or to find out more visit the charity ‘s website


We are being sponsored and supported by confectionary business, The Treat Kitchen, again this year and once again some of their team are taking on the 13.1 mile challenge


Recovery Running Club – Moving to Wednesday’s from 25th September 2019

Since January this year we have been establishing a small but dedicated group of ‘Recovery Runners’. Most weeks we manage to venture out in all conditions to walk, jog or run 5k. If you would like to take part with us get in touch. The next scheduled meet is on Wednesday 25th of September and we plan to meet every week at 5 pm in Café Sobar from then on a Wednesday. The club welcomes all-comers from absolute beginners to seasoned runners. Interested? Then contact us through the website or follow us on Twitter @DI_Runs. See you all out there soon.


Grant to help Recovery Academy model scale up


Scaling for success: Double Impact wins support from the School for Social Entrepreneurs and Postcode Innovation Trust.

Graham Miller, the CEO of Double Impact Services, has been awarded a place on a competitive leadership development programme, to help scale the success of their Academy model.  The Academy supports people to recovery from addiction and reintegrate into the community through peer support, accredited learning, volunteering and employment.

The Scale+Accelerate programme supports the leaders of established organisations working in the following sectors: employability and training; health and wellbeing; environment and conservation.
Double Impact Services has been identified as a well-established organisation impacting the lives of people in need , with the potential to scale impact even further.

The programme is being run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs, a charity that supports 1,000 people a year to develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. It is funded by the Postcode Innovation Trust, a grant-giving body funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: “Being awarded the place on the Scale+Accelerate Programme marks out Graham Miller as a leader with the potential to take this organisation’s impact to the next level. We are delighted to be supporting him on the journey to tackling one of the biggest problems in society.”

Participants are learning in small cohorts made up of peers from their sector. The Scale+Accelerate programme brings these leaders together to share experiences and overcome challenges, and they receive learning from expert practitioners on how to develop their organisations. They hear from expert speakers and other leaders with deep experience of the challenges they face.

Ian Baker, head of learning at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, says: “It’s so important to hear from inspiring social entrepreneurs and charity leaders who speak frankly about growing an organisation. We’re introducing Graham to experts to help him develop new skills and build a network of peer-support. We believe leaders need space to reflect and develop, as well as learning about the technical aspects of scaling – such as developing sustainable business models, impact and evaluation, and leadership and management.”

Find out more about the programme at


New Boston Recovery Pathways project launches

Double Impact are please to announce the launch of a new project based in Boston , Lincolnshire.

The four-year project, funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund, aims to help people recover from drug and alcohol problems, enable them to gain new skills and qualifications, improve their prospects and feel more connected to their local community.

The ‘Boston Recovery Pathways’ project will  work in partnership with  local treatment providers, Addaction, other service providers and local employers to create the best outcomes for participants and the community.  Double Impact are already delivering support services to people in Boston and the surrounding areas through their Lincolnshire Academy service and this project will enhance the support available to them.

The project will offer personal development and peer support groups, accredited mentoring and other training, and provide drug and alcohol awareness training to members of the community such as family members and local employers.








Cafe Sobar is 5 years old!

Double Impact’s social enterprise, Cafe Sobar, is 5 years old this week.  The cafe was set up to give people in recovery a safe place to socialise and to provide voluntary work experience to those in recovery trying to build up their skills and confidence to get a foothold in the job market.

Every penny of profit from the cafe goes towards supporting the charitable work that Double Impact does for people with addiction problems.

The cafe was set up with the support of a grant from the Big Lottery Fund who continue to support us, and local coffee and industry experts, 200 Degrees Coffee, continue to provide us with expert advice, as well as superb coffee!

The magnificent building which houses Cafe Sobar is owned and generously leased to us by the Nottingham Building Society, and still retains many of the original features from when it was a branch e.g. the entrance doors, the incredibly heavy safe door behind the bar and the original marble panels (hidden behind the wood panelling).  The distinctive murals of Nottingham landmarks were created by local artist and graphic designer, Nathan ‘Smallkid’ Bainbridge  and the overall design was by local design firm Constellations, who also designed Antenna in Nottingham.

It was officially opened by dance music legend and DJ Adamski on 23rd January 2014.

Over the past 5 years it has been accessed by over 1800 people in recovery from addictions, and provided voluntary work experience to 58 people.  It has hosted groups and events by 40+ community organisations.

Many thanks to all our dedicated Cafe Sobar staff and volunteers, loyal customers and our funders and supporters.  Here’s to the next 5 years!






Students from the Lincolnshire Academy attended a special celebration event with staff, family and friends.  All the students  have achieved accredited units, awards and certificates including Mentoring Skills.  Those students who have gained this qualification will go on to work as mentors within the service, helping those who are new to recovery to ‘find their feet’ and inspiring them by demonstrating what is possible in recovery.

NRN and Clean Slate Academies Certificate Presentation Event

NRN and Clean Slate Academies Certificate Presentation Event

In October, we celebrated our Nottingham Recovery Network and Clean Slate Academy students’ hard work and success at our certificate presentation event. Students received certificates for their achievements on our Level 1 and Level 2 programmes.

It was a truly inspirational event and enjoyed by all. Congratulations to all those students who received certificates. We are already looking forward to planning the next one!

Access to Heritage Exhibition

Well, our Access to Heritage project is now finished (apart from the exhibition in Cafe Sobar which runs until the end of December 2018!).

We’re really pleased to mark the end of the project by sharing this short film which was made by our friends at Crocodile House.  It may be short but it’s perfectly formed and gives a great flavour of what the project  was about and what it meant to the people that took part.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project introduced people engaged in Double Impact’s services to local heritage from the viewpoint of ‘The Outsider’.  The programme took the form of several visits to local sites of interests and heritage venues, and led on to a series of creative workshops where participants could respond to their experiences in a variety of ways.   The sessions culminated with a live performance event in Cafe Sobar, attended by friends and family, where participants shared what they had create

d.   This performance was recorded and turned into a podcast which was later broadcast on community radio station, NGDigital.

It is hoped that this pilot will inform a larger programme of similar activity in the future.

Some of the work is on display at Cafe Sobar until the end of the year.

Click on the link below to view the film:





The final one of the twenty Half Marathon challenge arrived, and fittingly it was time to run around my adopted home of Nottingham, with 24 other people running for Double Impact and raising funds along the way.  The lead up to this one was a bit different, as it was a case of organising an event and then taking part in it too. Quite a challenge for our small team of runners at Head Office on top of the day job, family commitments and not forgetting the months of training!

The Robin Hood in Nottingham was the culmination of a year of campaigning to reduce stigma faced by people recovering from addictions. What a great sight to see our logos everywhere, with runners, volunteers and marshals in our charity vests and T-shirts standing side by side with some of the UK’s big name charities. Double Impact in its 20th year was definitely standing out from the crowd with our strong presence in the Race Village for thousands to see. It really felt like a coming of age for our work, and a fitting finale to a year of campaigning (and running of course!).



The closest one to home, however this was one of my earlier (and chillier) starts at 5 am, to ensure that our stand in the Race Village was all set up. Huge thanks to Chris & Sean from our team for their help in looking after our stand. By 7.00 am everything was in place to welcome our fantastic team of runners, many of them first-time half marathoners, together with the thousands of competitors and their supporters. A final team talk and then suddenly we were lined up for the team photos and heading off to the start areas. With runners ranging from sub 1:30 to Sub 3:00 it was not going to take long for us to be spread across the route.

Nottingham can be a tough old course, with some challenging hill running between miles 1 and 3 as you pass by Nottingham Castle and head into the residential area called The Park, again full of decent hills. After The Park a long downhill section allows you to recover your energies ready for the next 9 miles. Next up near the halfway stage, it’s off into Wollaton Park in all its autumn splendour, including a Tour De France style short sharp climb lined with hundreds of supporters screaming encouragement at you. A few twists and turns past the Raleigh Island and near to the Queens Medical Centre before you can feel the call of the last few miles along Castle Boulevard and into the Meadows. At this point we passed through our very own section with marshals, volunteers and our vocal adrenaline cheer squad. What a welcome sight at nearly 12 miles, and a huge boost to get us through the final section before hitting the crowds on The Embankment, serenaded by ‘The Tuneless Choir’, who really don’t live up to their name – all in all great support!

On this occasion I ran with Lisa, our HR Manager, who doubles up as my training partner. I have to say thanks for putting up with me over 2000 miles of training across the last two years, plus two of the 20 half-marathons in this challenge. Fittingly we crossed the line together. To be honest neither of us could wait to get back out onto the course to see our other runners in the finishing stages. An absolute privilege to see you all finish and have you as part of the team. A special mention to Ellie from head office and Rebecca from our Nottingham Academy on completing your first ever Half Marathons – an amazing achievement!

This year we went all out to get people involved and they did. From our teams of runners, staff, supporters, volunteers and families, to the team from The Treat Kitchen, who not only chose us as their Charity Of The Year but who also decided that four of their team should run on our behalf, a huge thank you. And to Nikki from Buckles in supporting us and in getting a new PB. To all our runners a huge well done.  24 starters – 24 finishers.

Best Moments – Nottingham and it’s fantastic home support for Double Impact, never had that many shout outs before. Having so many runners and volunteers involved with us this year. Seeing twenty four people run for Double Impact. Seeing Rob who I met twelve months ago in Birmingham on Run 3. Meeting Matt who is doing 50 half’s in 50 weeks. Oh, and of course finishing the 20th.

Funniest Moments – At last year’s Robin Hood, Lisa my running partner disowned me on the course for singing, but this year it was her turn to be the choir master, made me laugh all the way! A sign saying ‘Smile if you just let out a little wee’ (strange breed us runners!).

Inspirational Words – “There were times when I doubted if I could run a Half Marathon – here will be a lifetime knowing that I have” – Robin Hood Finisher’s T-shirt. The best words I have seen on any of my twenty runs. “You should be very proud of what you have achieved, it’s amazing” – my wife Ali and daughter Isla – I couldn’t have done it without your support or belief in me.



I really thought that I would have had enough by now but quite the opposite. I have been offered a chance to do a 13.1 mile lap of honour in Birmingham 10 days from now, by Changes UK, an addiction recovery charity similar to ours. Thanks to Steve their CEO for the invite, and I can’t wait to meet your team of runners. Then at the end of October I am off the Rugby to run with Mark in his 50 in 50 challenge and Sean in his 80 in 8. I’m sure that will round things off nicely!



Our team of runners and fundraisers would like to thank everyone for their donations and support. If you would like to make a donation to this campaign please click here I would like to add my personal thanks everyone who has supported me along the way, far too many of you to mention here.



We are planning to start a Double Impact Recovery Runners club, open to anyone who is interested in running and supporting our work. We plan to enter a few runs together over the next 12 months and for those who wish finish up with the 2019 Robin Hood Hal Marathon. In-between times we will meet up for the odd training run. If you are interested just contact me alternatively join up through our running twitter @DI_Runs.

Also we would love to hear from anyone wanting to support our work in any way. If you are interested please get in touch with us at



I suspected that any half marathon following the infamous Great North Run would feel like an anti-climax. With this in mind, and to combat that possibility, I decided to run the Worcester Half Marathon based on an excellent web vlog from the Running Guru who ran it in 2017 and posted it on his Twitter account. Based on his recommendations, my mind-set felt good and I was already visioning how I would get round the next 13.1 miles and complete the 3rd of 3 marathons in 3 weeks, and number 19 of the 20.



In contrast to many of the other courses a significant amount of the course was situated in the City before it set off into the countryside for about 7 miles, before heading back and in to the finish area. As much as I enjoy running in the countryside it can feel a bit lonely out there sometimes (between the villages where the local residents always seem to turn out in their throngs). There was an added bonus of finishing alongside the 10K run which increased the amount of supporters in the last mile or so. A course with a lot of twists and turns through the streets followed by some beautiful and undulating country lanes.

Brilliant marshalling accompanied by the ‘Baby Shark Song’, along with the usual water stations and even isotonic drinks at two of them. As for the goody bag, best one I’ve seen in a long time including a fridge magnet – some traditions are made to last. Loved the bright lime green T-shirt with the words ‘May The Course Be With You’ in the style of Star Wars. Good to be different.

Best Moment – Getting a text message from Ellie our Business Development Manager after I finished, saying that she had completed her first ever 10 mile training run that same morning, in preparation for the Robin Hood Half Marathon. What an amazing achievement and inspiration to get on and finish the 20th alongside our 25 other runners.

Funniest Moment –I did suffer from my usual nerves and shared this with a fellow runner – she responded by asking me to take deep breath and then shout “I am excited!”. It certainly worked –  but also drew a certain amount of attention from onlookers and fellow runners!

Inspirational Words – “Wishing you all the very best” (from supermodel Nell McAndrew after commenting on one of her Tweets).



With only the last one of the 20 to go which takes place at our home town of Nottingham, my thoughts are starting to turn to the other 25 runners who will join me then. These brave (or crazy) individuals have signed up to take on the 13.1 mile challenge alongside me and over 7,000 others. They are made up of a mixture of people connected with our charity, ranging from staff and service users to businesses such as The Treat Kitchen and Buckles Solicitors, not forgetting our own Café Sobar. I take my hat off to each and every one of them for taking on this challenge. It’s not just the 13.1 miles on the day – it’s the months of sacrifice and hundreds of miles leading up to the day that’s the hardest part. My personal thanks to each and every one of you and best of luck on the 30th of September!

On the day our team of intrepid runners will be supported by our Double Impact army of volunteer marshals, with additional vocal encouragement coming from our very own “Cheer Squad” around the Nottingham Railway Station at between miles 1 and 2 and then again between miles 11 and 12.



We would love to hear from anyone wanting to help us on the day or at one of our other fundraising campaigns. If you are interested please get in touch with us at

College Studies Make Positive Impact on Rehabilitated Students

Tutors at West Nottinghamshire College have joined forces with Double Impact to offer rehabilitated drug and alcohol users with tailored support and learning – and the confidence to run their own event.

On Friday 7th September, students at Double Impact welcomed family, friends, staff, and Mansfield MP Ben Bradley to a fundraising event which they organised and staged themselves while studying on a volunteering course. The event featured a tombola and raffle, with prizes which the students sourced from local businesses; hand-made jewellery and crafts, refreshments, and speeches by peer mentors and current students.

The Double Impact Academy, based at St. John Street in Mansfield, offers a unique service that deals with all the issues facing recovering people, helping to break the cycle of addiction.

It is part of the Nottinghamshire charity Double Impact which first started supporting people with drug and alcohol issues in 1998. Since then it has collaborated with service users to develop an approach which takes people on a journey away from dependence on drugs or alcohol, into freedom from addiction and a meaningful, useful life.

Community tutors from West Nottinghamshire College have been working with the Academy to deliver confidence-building courses, craft sessions, IT programmes and volunteering courses to individuals.

Double Impact students are referred by Change, Grow, Live (CGL) – the organisation which helps people to understand the risks their drug or alcohol use pose to their health and wellbeing, and support them to reduce or stop their use safely.

Friday’s event was the culmination of students’ work who have attended the volunteering course at the centre, who wanted to stage a fundraising event to raise further awareness of the recovery service in the area.

Community Tutor Julie Bagshaw, said, “I’ve been delivering the confidence-building side of learning and the students have already shown remarkable progress.

“As part of the volunteering sessions, the students wanted to stage their own event and really embraced the challenge. From the very early stages of planning to today’s event, they’ve shown courage, confidence and commitment to showing others the benefits of the service they’ve gained from.”

Education Co-ordinator at Double Impact Academy Mansfield, Luis Rodrigues, said: “Everyone who comes to Double Impact has had a different journey so everyone needs different things. We run relapse prevention groups, one-to-one sessions and the fabulous classes with West Nottinghamshire College.

“We enjoy seeing people wanting to come to the centre and our 25 students are all enjoying their classes and getting something out of it. Today’s event has been brilliant and they’ve made me proud with their enthusiasm and commitment – they’ve even invited our local MP.

“We’ll be continuing to work with the college to deliver sessions because we put a strong emphasis on learning and volunteering as a key means of moving through and beyond treatment services, into the community.”

MP Ben Bradley said: “From speaking to some of the services users, they’ve experienced such a positive impact from the support they’ve had and the qualifications. It’s all helping them to make life changes.

“People I’ve spoken to have discussed career changes already and they’re building their confidence and new networks.

“We need to raise the profile of these kind of vital support services. Sometimes people have a set view about addiction, but there’s a whole lot more to it and we should all do our best to share their best practice widely.”

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