Lee Wilson

The flexibility and innovation shown by the alcohol and drug treatment sector across the UK has been phenomenal and we are very proud of how Forward Leeds is working collaboratively to meet service user needs.

Forward Leeds and our aftercare service 5 WAYS have put in place a comprehensive programme that continues to support people when their traditional recovery network has fallen away.

The new programme consists of eight Zoom meetings a week, including a SMART meeting, three general recovery groups, a quiz, an adult learning course and mindfulness, and we’ve just added ‘song of the week’ which is a discussion on songs that service users are finding inspirational.

There is also a range of mindfulness videos and ‘five ways to wellbeing’ videos on our YouTube channel that are accessible to anyone, as well as podcasts to download, and our group workers have made lots of their written resources available to for anyone to download.

These digital interventions are just part of a package of support that we’ve put in place.

We’ve called each of our 3,300+ service users in Leeds to make sure they’re OK, and for those we couldn’t reach by phone we’re carrying out home visits. Importantly we’re still working with all our clients towards their treatment goals using video calls and Zoom whenever possible to make the experience as rich as we can.

Our clinical and prescribing team has worked around the clock juggling appointments and re-arranging scripts and pharmacies to ensure no-one was ever without medication, while keeping the service users as safe as possible.

We are working with the rough sleeping population, who have recently been moved into safer accommodation across the city, to manage their scripts and ensure they have what they need, including naloxone. This could be a critical moment to engage this population into treatment services and we want to make sure we are making the most of it.

Our harm reduction team has been continuing to offer needle exchange services every day and has upped the level of outreach we are providing. We’re also doing proactive home visits with naloxone kits and clean equipment.

Our Family Plus team has distributed family care packs and is offering additional support to families of service users who are struggling to cope.

We didn’t know a couple of months ago that Zoom would become an integral tool for our interventions. Attendance at our online groups continues to grow and we are looking forward to seeing how this online community develops.

It is fantastic to see what we have achieved in such a short space of time, and I know services up and down the country have also done amazing things.

Lee Wilson is Operations Director for Leeds

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Drink and Drugs News.

Copyright 2016 Forward Leeds