Recovery from Addiction

Independence & Wellbeing

Category: News (page 1 of 4)

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.”


All too quickly the Great North Run has come and gone from my schedule, and my bucket list: hundreds of charities being supported by thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands of runners doing 13.1 miles for all those great causes.  So –  what’s the Great North really like and does it live up to all the hype?

To start with, it’s not only the 13.1 miles of running that faces you.  It’s the decision on whether to leave your transport in Newcastle and run to South Shields or do the opposite and leave it at the end and then get back to where you started!  Metros, taxis, cars, buses and even helicopters come into play. To be honest, I didn’t hear many complaints, as most people accept this as the price you pay to take part in one of the world’s most iconic sporting events alongside 50,000 other brave souls. I was lucky enough to be chauffeur-driven all the way from Nottingham and back by Ian and Gill, with 2 nights’ board and lodging provided by their friends Amanda and Brian (not forgetting Barney the Labradoodle). I did promise to put my review on TripAdvisor but have yet to find their listing! Hopefully they’ll have me back next year, as I’ve promised to run with Amanda for a Sub 2. Between them, my support crew have more than 10 Great Norths and Brian has the claim to fame of running the first one, with the photos and certificate to prove it. What can I say? – with a perfect support crew behind me all the way, I could relax and focus on getting the best out of the whole experience.

Thanks to each and every one of you.



I watched the first ever Great North Run as a fresh faced 18 year old in 1981. By that point in my life my father was already in recovery from his alcohol addiction and I was just getting to grips with moving my own life on, with some difficulty. Yes, back then too I loved to run (escapism I suppose) and I even appeared in the old Glasgow Herald running in my local park, sporting a maroon Dash Track Suit (blast from the past) for a feature on Youth Unemployment in Glasgow. Sport was, and still is my release from the mental pressures that life can present.

Over the years I have often said I will do the Great North Run one day. I now feel very proud to say that I have, and with it the huge bonus of promoting a positive message about recovery from addiction. Addiction recovery was featured twice on the BBC’s live coverage including a very good piece from Geordie Shore’s own Vicky Pattison. Thank you Aunty Beeb for mentioning our cause and in doing so helping challenge the stigma often faced by those suffering the destructive impact of addiction in stark contrast to some of the media who continue to demonise the subject.

So –  to Number 18 – Wow! everything about this is huge. The start area was so long that I couldn’t see the end of it. You don’t get a sense of the scale from the TV. The course is challenging enough, and difficult to run with any rhythm, due to the amount of people around you. I had a fast start, with a long downhill section but paid for it in miles 10 and 11 –  will I ever learn? With over 43,000 finishers it was all in stark contrast to my other Great Run (Yarmouth) where 361 completed the challenge!


The support was outstanding from start to finish. Members of the public spending their hard-earned cash feeding and watering the runners for free, very much appreciated. This year’s theme was  ‘Local Heroes’ –  and there were many – Scooby Doo, Rubik’s Cube, Giant Green Telephone, Bobsleigh Team and not forgetting the thousands of heroes with the very personal messages written on their running tops. You made me cry throughout and kept it real. My heart goes out to all of you and thanks for inspiring me to get round. It was my 18th sub 2 in a row, with a finishing time of 1:55:06 (only 55 mins behind Sir Mo). Slowest of the 18 so far. If I can do the final two in similar times I will have reached my own personal goal of completing all 20 at sub 2 hour pace. Fingers crossed.



So there are two left to go and Number 20 is set to be our home town half marathon at Nottingham’s Robin Hood. Before then I have one more to squeeze in and that’s likely to be Worcester. I’ll keep everyone posted on Twitter.

Best Moment – Too many to mention. Being part of a 43,000 strong river of human kindness is something that will stay with me. Humbled and grateful to take part, and in doing so support others and myself at the same time.

Funniest Moment – Signing up on the day after the race to take on the Birmingham Half Marathon with our friends at another drug & alcohol charity, Changes UK. That will be number 21 which I am seeing as a lap of honour! I must be mad.

Most Inspirational Words – “Don’t worry about your time, just enjoy the time you are having.” – thanks to Nell and “Well Done Young Man” from Craig who has a Commonwealth Gold Medal and represented Team GB at the Olympics in Sydney 2000. Thanks for the donation and kind words.



There are only a couple of days left to join us at the final run in Nottingham, so please get in touch right away. Please e-mail us at or to find out more visit the charity partners’ info page on the marathon website. For those looking for a shorter distance to run there is the new ‘One Mile Challenge’ this year where you can also raise money for the Charity. More details on the event website here.

As always thanks to our service users, The Treat Kitchen, Buckles Solicitors and other supporters who are already signed up to run alongside staff from Café Sobar and Double Impact.

If you would like to make a donation to the campaign please click here.



As a Charity Partner in the Robin Hood Half Marathon this year we need volunteers to help marshal our section near the meadows at around the 11 mile mark where there will also be our ‘Cheering Point’ to support the runners. If you are interested please get in touch at



September is always an important time for our charity as it is International Recovery Month and traditionally we highlight our work and celebrate addiction recovery. This year we have the added focus of celebrating our own 20th Birthday and the completion of the 20 Half Marathon Challenge on the 30th of September where, with a bit of luck, I will be running Nottingham’s very own Robin Hood Half Marathon. To kick off Recovery Month I took part in the Kenilworth Half and this will be followed by the Great North Run this Sunday; the following week is the Reigate Half (or Humber Costal/Warrington Half) and then on to finale at the Robin Hood. There are currently over 20 of us participating in this and raising funds for the charity.

So – to number 17 – Kenilworth. A course described as ‘undulating’, a slight understatement with 650 ft of climb! Although I was looking forward to this one, a certain amount of doubt existed as my training almost came to a complete halt due to taking a family holiday during a heatwave and the added bonus of jet lag! Oh, those pre-race nerves!  These were justified for once, as I didn’t feel in any sort of rhythm until about mile 5, and then it left me again about mile 10. Oh well – another finishing line and in a decent time of 1:53:10. Still aiming to do all 20 in sub 2 time and this was the 2nd slowest so far.


I remember that there was the usual lovely sunshine, beautiful countryside, great support, brilliant race marshals and volunteers, but this time it was all about digging deep and getting round, which I did, without stopping, but only just. I couldn’t really say I had many conversations along the way for once. Anyone who knows me will agree that this is not the norm. So I just reminded myself about why I took on this challenge and got on with the job, as painful as it was. I always tell people that it is as much about the mental challenge as it is the physical.

Thank you to the supporters on the roadside who confirmed I was still moving in mile 11 when the hill appeared to stop me in my tracks! There were the usual distractions along the way and my favourite was the guy pushing the pram (passing me!) with his young child in it. Not sure I’ve seen that one before in a half marathon.

Once over the line I appeared to recover quickly but with a plan to complete the final 4 in 5 weeks, I headed for the race HQ and the free massage. Thank you Andrew for sorting out my tight calf muscles and sore heel.


So it’s nearly time for the Great North Run. Having participated with as few as 360 runners and not to mention the 600 miles of training this year, usually with one other person, it will be an experience running and hopefully finishing with over 43,000 others. Huge thanks to my friend Ian for sorting all the logistics of getting me to and from the North East, as well as providing accommodation. Couldn’t do it without you.

Best Moment – The words of encouragement from fellow runners in the closing miles, and then later again in the Race HQ on sharing my story. Your words and support will see me through the next 3 races in 4 weeks. Of that I am sure.

Funniest Moment – The spelling mistake on the finisher’s t-shirt – KENILWORTH HALF MARAHTON – brilliant!


We still have Charity places for people wanting to run the Robin Hood Half Marathon & Mile Challenges on the 29th & 30th of September. The deadline for entries is looming fast so if you would like to join us and raise funds to support our work please e-mail us at or to find out more visit the charity partners’ info page on the marathon website. For those looking for a shorter distance to run there is the new ‘One Mile Challenge’ this year where you can also raise money for the Charity. More details on the event website here.

As always thanks to our service users, The Treat Kitchen, Buckles Solicitors and other supporters who are already signed up to run alongside staff from Café Sobar and Double Impact.

If you would like to make a donation to the campaign please click here.


As a Charity Partner in the Robin Hood Half Marathon this year we need volunteers to help marshal our section near the meadows at around the 11 mile mark where there will also be our ‘Cheering Point’ to support the runners. If you are interested please get in touch

GRAHAM’S BLOG – The Great Yarmouth Half-Marathon (12.08.2018)

This time I went as far east in this country as you can go to take part in the Great Yarmouth Half Marathon, starting in Gorleston On Sea and then meandering along some stunning undulating country lanes before returning to the start/finish area at the Ormiston Venture Academy. This venue was brilliantly well-marshalled and organised by the army of volunteers. They even provided indoor toilets – a real treat for us runners that are used to the usual portaloos, but just in case there were a few of those on hand too!

As this year has progressed the weather has been the one constant challenge with temperatures ranging from -6C to +30C; cancelled races due to snow and in this most recent race high humidity, conditions have been anything but conducive to distance running. According to my trusty running app I lost around 96 fluid ounces along the route and boy did I feel it in the last few miles! Each run has brought its own challenge and this one was definitely the humidity for me, never at my best in those conditions. Still managed a very respectable 01:49:13 although I did drop over 2 mins in the last few miles.


On a day when around 380 people finished the course I did find myself running alone at times but never for long, and to help everyone seemed to have words of encouragement for each other. I loved the course of narrow country lanes and very little traffic. Volunteers and marshals you should be very proud of yourselves, your efforts to keep us safe, watered and encouraged were outstanding. You might not be the Great North Run but I must say the Great Yarmouth was all about the quality of the experience rather than the size of the field. A special thank you to the Great Yarmouth Road Runners for organising such a high quality event.

As someone who started out as a charity campaigner and fun runner I tried not to feel daunted by the hordes of seasoned club runners with all their different team colours and logos. My mind did start to look ahead to the Robin Hood where I will be joined by 25 other runners in Double Impact colours who are taking on the full 13.1 miles in support of our charity and to help me get round my 20th in a year! There is still time to join up to run for us – see below.

Best Moment – As I was running through the grounds of Somerleyton Hall I overheard two people from Reepham Runners saying “he’s a good pace runner for us”. On turning around I could not believe it was me they were talking about! Anyway I did point out that I was starting to fade as they ran up the final gruelling climb. Thanks for your support and for making me feel like a proper runner.

Funniest Moment – Watching a car who had driven past the field with the windows down not realising that someone was cooling off the competitors with a garden hose.



We still have Charity places for people wanting to run the Robin Hood Half Marathon & Mile Challenges on the 29th & 30th of September. Would you like to join us and raise funds to support our work? E-mail us at or to find out more visit the charity partners’ info page on the marathon website. For those looking for a shorter distance to run there is the new ‘One Mile Challenge’ this year where you can also raise money for the Charity. More details on both events can be found here.

Thanks to our service users, The Treat Kitchen, Buckles Solicitors and other supporters who are already signed up to run alongside staff from Café Sobar and Double Impact.

If you would like to make a donation to the campaign please click here.



So – it’s 16 down and 4 to go. With the hot weather and planned family holidays I will probably end up running my last 4 races in September which already include the Great North Run and the Robin Hood Half. Just looking around for some more options on the other free weekends! Would you like to decide where I run next – then please get in touch. I will put a call out on Twitter for suggestions and I’ll post some more updates for you @DI_Recovery & @DI_Runs.

Thanks for reading.

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