Cash boost for Ilkeston project that is helping drugs and alcohol addicts recover

THE PHOENIX, an inspiring piece of art, symbolising hope and freedom from addiction, that has been worked on by Wash Arts users.
THE PHOENIX, an inspiring piece of art, symbolising hope and freedom from addiction, that has been worked on by Wash Arts users.

A project, based in Ilkeston, that helps people recover from alcohol or drug addiction is to receive a share of nearly £200,000 worth of funding from Derbyshire County Council.

The funding will help eight projects across the county to help the addicts rebuild their lives and make fresh starts by developing new skills, gaining confidence and moving into employment.

Wash Arts, a not-for-profit, community-led arts organisation, provides support through a mix of creative arts workshops and growing food in gardening programmes at its Ilkeston base. And the council’s cash will be invaluable as its team teaches hands-on skills via activities aimed at uncovering potential, increasing aspirations and building personal pride.

The organisation’s general aim is to improve access to the arts across Erewash and to encourage people to get involved in the arts. But its help for recovering addicts is an equally important thread of its work.

One man to have benefited from Wash Arts is dad Dale, who suffers from anxiety after issues with drugs and alcohol in the past. Through its Horti-Culture project, he has attended art groups, gardening classes and ‘boxercise’ sessions and, thanks to Wash Arts, he is now improving his health, has stopped smoking and is finding ways to become a positive role model for his son.

“I have found it very rewarding, particularly the gardening,” said Dale. “It has encouraged me to eat more healthily because I can take home what I have grown.

“Usually, it takes me time to open up because of my anxiety levels. But the group sessions at Wash Arts have helped me a lot. I am very keen on the educational side of things with the garden.”

Wash Arts is keen to explore creative and cultural opportunities with all the people it helps. And one of the pieces of art its users have been working on has just won an award at Derby Museum and Art Gallery. It is ‘The Phoenix’, a symbolic image that represents hope and freedom from addiction to alcohol and drugs, and it won the people’s choice award in the museum’s ‘Your Place In The World’ exhibition. It is to be hung at the Erewash House drug addiction and treatment centre on Station Road.

“Both the art and the gardening sessions have helped me a lot,” added Dale. “They have particularly helped me get back into a routine, which is really important, and has played a crucial part with my recovery from alcohol and drugs.

“They have helped me look at my life, made me change and given me willpower.

“I want to be healthier. This is extremely important for me with having responsibilities of being a parent. I am always thinking of my little boy and I want him to be proud of his dad.”

The council’s cabinet member for health and communities, Coun Dave Allen, said: “Recovery from addiction is not straightforward, and different people find that different things work for them. Giving them long-term skills to recover from an addiction is vital in giving them the chance to live healthier, happier lives. It’s good to see funding helping such innovative schemes, and we are pleased to support them.”

The funding has a financial benefit too. For every £1 spent on drug and alcohol treatment in Derbyshire, there is a return on investment of £4.08 that is saved through reducing healthcare bills and welfare benefits.

Other projects who will share in the £200,000 windfall include the Growing Lives programme, run by the Derventio Charitable Housing Trust in Erewash. Specially designed for people who are unemployed and in need of a skills and confidence boost, it revolves around activities such as arts and crafts, cooking and gardening.