22 July 2022

Liz Campbell, Area Director tells us about WDP’s attendance at the 2022 DDN Conference and shares feedback from our staff and service users who attended

On Thursday 23 June, we attended this year’s DDN Conference in Birmingham. The theme was ‘All Together Now’ as it was the first time that this conference was being held in person for over two years.

Our team included staff from across our WDP services and we were also joined by four Service User Representatives from Redbridge. Our stall had information about our services and the work we are currently involved in, such as our Hep C elimination project. There were lots of other stalls giving out information about all the interesting work they were doing too.

John Conner, Recovery Practitioner at our New Beginnings service in Cheshire West and Chester, said: “There was a really good energy and lots of choices and new inspirational projects available to complement each other. I particularly liked the service user input from other parts of the country.”

The conference was opened by Rosanna O’Connor from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) who gave an overview of Dame Carol Black’s independent review on drugs and the additional funding that is being given to the sector.

Then followed two brilliant presentations about some of the difficulties women and BAME service users have in accessing services and our Head of Integration, Rebecca Odedra gave a great presentation about our IPS Into Work service and how it helps service users find employment.

One of the afternoon sessions saw Ed Davy, the UK government's drug Recovery Champion, talking about a united approach and that there isn’t one path to recovery. 

Qas Hassan, Peer Support Worker at our partnership service ARCH (Addiction Recovery Community Hillingdon), said: “The guest speakers were a fantastic contribution to the conference, especially Rebecca for WDP's IPS employment service and the national recovery champion, Ed Day. I learnt a great deal about the new funding for our services and what plans will be implemented to improve access to mental health and additional support for our clients in the community.”

Gary Gemmell, Team Leader from our Capital Card team, said: “The highlight of my day was listening to the presentation from Ed Day. He really has made a difference for our service users and staff, by helping with the implementation of the government’s new 10-year drug strategy (From Harm to Hope), combined with the Dame Carol Black report. It really does sound like the future of drug and alcohol services looks as though it is set to really improve, roll on the next ten years.”

The conference was a great opportunity to spend time with colleagues, peer mentors, and service users. I was particularly pleased to see the enthusiasm shown by the Service User Representatives from Redbridge who also attended and thought it was a brilliant event. They said:

  • “We should do this more often, with more service users.”
  • “I learnt a lot about what’s happening in recovery around the country.”
  • “We want more tickets for service users at the next DDN [conference].”

One of our newest members of staff Ava Cooper, Employment Specialist at our IPS Into Work service, summed up the conference perfectly, by saying:

“Attending the DDN 2022 conference was a great experience. Being new to the sector, it was insightful to hear lived experience stories and how this results in engagement. Building on recovery capital really is the best way we can connect during recovery and work towards enriching people’s lives. This also shed light on the direction of the sector prioritising community-led practice that values peer support; overall looking at recovery beyond medication. The emphasis on holistic support, achieved by services working together to provide training and support, gave me a greater understanding of the pillars of recovery.”

To find out more about the DDN Conference 2022, read DDN’s latest issue here https://joom.ag/sXCd. The issue includes an overview of Rebecca Odedra’s IPS Into Work presentation on page 8 and a WDP team photo and quote from Rebecca on pages 18-19.