“I’d see people coming into recovery, and then they’d disappear. I’d see them two years later at an event somewhere like London or a small place like Accrington. I’d ask what happened? They’d say they went to these places because there was no place for them to come back to in Leeds, other than the deprived areas they’d left. They stayed in these places because they had houses for them to get clean. I thought to myself that can’t be right. A city the size of Leeds not having any treatment programme with housing for addicts?”
John realised this was something Leeds needed. He came up with what would become “The Growing Rooms” – a rehabilitation programme, involving residents living together for a year, participating in therapy sessions similar to the ones John had when he was in rehab. In addition, they would gradually begin participating in volunteering work; this provides them with valuable experience learning to be self-motivating, keep to a time frame, and bolsters their customer-service skills.
He started meeting with NHS commissioners and other treatment providers requesting funding to initiate the programme. “Everyone said it was a great idea, but they had no money for it. Until one commissioner said you should take it to St George’s Crypt.” The Crypt agreed to help start it, and the programme has run for three years now.
The programme’s aim is not just to keep them free of drugs and alcohol but also to prepare them for life after the programme.