Towards Recovery

Making recovery visible

Recovery stories are incredibly powerful, so we try and capture them where we can. Our library includes videos from previous events, online discussions and interviews. We have also included TedTalks from others that we find interesting.

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How Towards Recovery started
Huseyin decided to set up Towards Recovery after hearing of a woman complaining about drug use in Henley. He thought he could help by setting up a group that would connect local drug users to people in recovery from addiction.

Towards Recovery early activities
Huseyin and colleagues rented a church and started monthly meetings, made some short films of community members talking, and organised event nights and a conference. They made recovery visible so that people could connect if they wished.

Recovering people as assets
We wanted to show people recovery and not addiction. We wanted to show people that people in recovery are assets. They feed the soil of where they live. They’re the people who’ve walked through deep water and come out the other side.

Becoming a CIC
Huseyin initially funded Towards Recovery himself and in 2017 it became a Community Interest Company (CIC). Volunteers made cakes and savouries, and worked on Recovery Cafe evenings.

Three degrees of change
[In the book], the boy says to the mole, “What’s the biggest waste of time?” And the mole says, “Comparing yourself to others.”… And the boy says, “I wish there was a school of unlearning.”

Our people
‘We invite people to join us and we ask them if they want help, someone walking alongside them.’

Bringing people together
‘I love the cafe culture, because what do you do when you go to a cafe? The first thing you do is you kind of relax.’

What happens at the Cafe?
‘…we’d also give people an opportunity to share, so we would have an open-mic section in the evening where people get up and if they wanted to tell a little bit of their own story they could.


Online meetings
We have a WhatsApp group that backs it all up, so people are on the WhatsApp group can talk to each other, encourage each other, tell each other what they’re doing.

Just the one 
Huseyin describes someone who came into the Recovery Cafe who was a chair of a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group. He had been put on a pedestal by his group members, but was really struggling and didn’t know who to talk to about his problems.

A problem drinker
‘And then we didn’t see him again. We don’t know what happened to him, but we didn’t get him to fill out an assessment form, we didn’t do any professional stuff, we didn’t hold any data on him. He just came to the cafe.’

What’s the magic?
‘I think the magic is the connection…. We’re not peddling anything, but we’re connected to each other.’


We don’t force people
Huseyin describes a young man who turned up to the Recovery Cafe accompanied by his frightened-looking mum and with a beer in his pocket. He said, ‘Okay, I’m here. What you going to do for me?’

Shared sense of purpose
‘It has to be about relationship. And we have to support people’s autonomy and agency.’

Helping others
‘Sometimes we cry with each other, sometimes we talk about stuff that’s affecting people. Sometimes we find other people that are better at helping them. We sometimes signpost and refer to other places…’

Spiderman and Batman
‘The real deal in recovery is being bitten by the spider, is having that internal transformation somehow, that makes you look at everything differently. And it changes you.’

My past considered a weakness
‘The people that needed to know that gave me the job [in the prison service] knew about my past [as someone addicted to Class A drugs], but it wasn’t something that you were encouraged to talk about. In fact, you were actively encouraged not to talk about it…

Disclosing your past
Huseyin worked in a rehab where staff used to put a cover story together for residents so that when they left they didn’t have to reveal their past. He found that difficult and later said to residents, when he became temporary CEO of the rehab, ‘Do you really want to start your new life with a cover story, like you’re a spy?’

Being visible
‘But the truth is, being visible allows others to come out of the shadows as well, if they want to. They don’t have to.’

In the midst
Huseyin describes someone on methadone who sat amongst a group of recovery people at the Towards Recovery Cafe and asked ‘How do I get what they’ve got.’ He later transformed his life. Huseyin talks about the impact of recovering people, and points out the problem of only interacting with people in addiction.

What do your opiate clients want? Pt1
Whilst giving a training course on opiates to practitioners at a well-known treatment provider, Huseyin notices    that there no opiate groups sessions for clients, despite the fact that 51% of them were opiate users. Practitioners tell him that clients only want their methadone. Huseyin explores with the practitioners if this is actually the case.

What do your opiate clients want? Pt2
In his training session, Huseyin’s illustrates to the practitioners how demoralised their clients were. He asks them what they do when they feel demoralised. On hearing their replies, he asks why they don’t do the same things with their clients. Huseyin learns the practitioners are demoralised by their experiences in their job.

The value of experience
‘In the same way, if you’re going to employ a builder, you want to employ a builder that’s built a house before, or knows how to lay bricks, or whatever. You don’t want someone who just has a theoretical knowledge…’

The lion learns to write
‘Until the lion learns to write, all the stories will be from the hunters’ perspective… I guess these videos, the blogs, and all of that is the lion learning to write.’

Eat for recovery Lisa Sayers, personal trainer & qualified nurse talks about eating for recovery at Towards Recovery Conference in Henley, Nov 2015. Watch on YouTube
The Power of Vulnerability Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. Watch on TedEx online
Outliers: Why Some People Succeed and Some Don't Malcolm Gladwell Watch online
How not to take things personally Frederik Imbo | TEDxMechelen Watch
The False Dichotomy of Legalization and Criminalization Kevin Sabet | TEDxPrincetonU Watch
Experiencing Recovery William L. White Watch
5 hindrances to self-mastery Shi Heng YI | TEDxVitosha Watch online
Sustainable community development: from what's wrong to what's strong Cormac Russell | TEDxExeter Watch