Double Impact are a Nottingham-based charity which helps people to recover fully from drug and alcohol addiction.  We help over 900 people a year across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

Our service users have often lost their home, their health, their job, family, friends, confidence and hope – people can remain caught up in a vicious cycle of addiction, problems, shame and guilt.  However, with the right support at the right time, people can and do recover fully, regaining dignity, self-respect and purpose, able to take up their place in society.

Since we started the charity over 22 years ago, we’ve helped people to build two of the cornerstones of a full recovery – firstly, a positive support network and following this, satisfying and purposeful use of their time (which for many means paid work).

This ‘double impact’, enables people to not just stop drinking or using, but to stay stopped for good – and to rebuild their lives.  We give our community lots of opportunities to connect with each other, rebuild self-confidence, learn new skills and embark upon training, volunteering and employment.

A great example of this is in action is our social enterprise, Café Sobar.  This (usually) bustling and always welcoming independent café in the centre of Nottingham was set up to provide a safe space for people in recovery to socialise (and their families and friends), as well as providing voluntary work placements to give them a foot on the employment ladder.  As soon as we are allowed to, we will be opening again (for the second time) and welcoming regulars, and hopefully new some new customers, back.

Adapting face-to-face services

Since the pandemic happened, we have strived to translate as much of what we offer as possible into a different form, to maintain that ‘double impact’ for the people that depend on us.  We know that isolation is the enemy of recovery, particularly for those that are new to it, and many of our community already suffer from depression and anxiety – so our staff have worked incredibly hard to take our services online, learning how to use Zoom, taking computer kit out to people, even providing on the spot training on driveways, so that they could access new online support groups.

Daily telephone calls or zoom calls were offered to all our community, and although the charity is certainly no stranger to innovation and responsiveness, I’m still amazed at how quickly we established this new programme of activity – all within a week of face-to-face services closing.  This has provided a lifeline to our beneficiaries as well as protecting frontline NHS services at the height of the crisis.  I have also been really inspired by how well our most of our beneficiaries have responded to the crisis, digging deep and uncovering inner resources, resilience, gratitude and humour, as this blog from our ‘Stories of recovery in lockdown’ series illustrates.

We also needed to make all our premises COVID-secure, so that we could see those more vulnerable people for whom online or telephone contact was just not possible, or enough.  And make sure that our staff (over 40% of whom are in recovery themselves) were coping with the extra stress of lockdown, and were not suffering from burnout.

Looking to the future

Now that we are well into the ‘new normal’ and contemplating the ‘next normal’, we are taking stock of what benefits this enforced adaptation has brought – online delivery of support has proven to be a bonus for many people living out ‘in the sticks’ in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, as well as for those with work or caring responsibilities. It will never replace face-to-face contact, or a hug from a fellow group member, but we hope that it will continue to play an important role in enhancing what we do, making recovery more accessible and available to more people.

We are determined to use this whole experience as a chance to ‘Build Back Better’ –  for the sake of our community and those that they love.





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