I came across a tweet on Tuesday that talked of the disproportionate amount of children who have been in care and end up in prison. We know ourselves at Phoenix that if you were in care, not only are you more likely to serve a prison sentence, but you are also more likely to need to seek help for a drug problem. 36% of men in our prison Therapeutic Community programmes have been in care as a child compared to less than 1% of the population.
Children are in care because they have suffered some form of individual or family trauma. The state care they receive after 18 is too often provided by the prison service or a drug treatment charity like us.
But it’s not just being in care that increases our chances of developing an addiction, the number of high profile celebrity cases of addiction tell us you don’t have to experience deprivation to develop a drug habit. But the fact is the 26,000 people who accessed our services last year are more likely to be homeless, more likely to never have worked, more likely to have experienced abuse, more likely to leave school without qualifications.
That is why, as we embark on Recovery Month, we feel so justified in celebrating the achievements of people in recovery. It’s because their lives before recovery were so often desperate and hopeless that their achievements are so remarkable and uplifting.
Whether it’s the mums and dads who entered our residential service with their children and completed treatment drug free
Or the 90% of mums who leave drug free stay drug free
Or the service users who delivered 30,000 volunteer hours supporting their local communities
Or the grandmothers and grandfathers we support to keep families together through addiction
All the stories and all the successes need to be celebrated.
I understand the need for people to be held to account for failings, lack of care for those most vulnerable people that need it most and lack of opportunity for many in society. But let’s also ensure we give equal if not more focus to supporting those that have been hurt and show them that no matter how horrible their past, with the right care and support, they can rebuild their lives and in time can look forward to a positive future.
Chief Exec – Phoenix Futures