Last Wednesday, Lambeth housing (Knatchbull Rd) opened its doors, inviting people in to get a feel of what’s on offer at the unique abstinent supported housing service. It was a pleasure to be able to meet people, from professionals who have been making referrals for years to people curious about whether the service could be a good next step for them. The weather was stunning and the mood matched the June sunshine.
Visitors, who included prospective referrers, people interested in moving into the house, people currently living there and others who have already moved on from Knatchbull Road into their own independent accommodation- were treated to an impressive spread of perfectly seasoned jerk chicken, a mountain of mouth-watering jollof rice, and piles of beautifully made sandwiches that would have made M&S jealous- all prepared by Doris and the current residents of the house.
Visitors were able to get an insight into how the group programme works, how the residents take responsibility for running the house, and hear some first hand experience of how the service has allowed people to take control of their own recovery, learning skills that for some of the returning ex-residents, have continued to help them manage challenges far beyond addiction.
Much like the stories of the inspiration people who have gone through the service, Knatchbull Rd is a great example of creativity and determination beating adversity. Previously commissioned by Lambeth council, the service was decommissioned due to funding cuts but was supported to continue its work with people in recovery through housing benefits, which also opened the service up to people without a local connection.
Since then Doris Onwuasoanya has run the service, putting together and delivering an adaptable group programme to support the people we work with to maintain abstinence, understand and manage their relationship with substances, and develop life skills to support their independence and quality of life when they move on into their own accommodation. In the last few years the service has been hit with more challenges; having lost some main referrers in the closure of London-based detox services and the challenges posed by lockdowns and the pandemic, we went from nearly always having a waiting list, to struggling to attract referrals. This event was put together as part of a push to increase knowledge of the service, and highlight the amazing outcomes achieved by the people who pass through it.