It’s becoming increasingly inevitable that there will be a second wave of pandemic lockdown restrictions and increased anxiety and uncertainty about what the future holds. At this time, we would like to share some of our optimism at the resourcefulness we have seen both amongst ourselves and the people we work with over the last few months. 

Like most drug, alcohol and mental health services, we have been unable to run our face-to-face programmes. Being acutely aware of the meaning, purpose and structure our work gives to us all at Foundation for Change, furloughing was always a last resort. After ramping up our fundraising efforts, we’re pleased to say it was something we didn’t need to resort to. 
Our initial priority was on supporting those with whom we had already established relationships of trust and support over the last few years. People who otherwise would have found themselves isolated and without access to treatment or support. We then moved on to working out how to adapt our work for this entirely new landscape. 

This came in the form of a series of podcasts exploring themes of psychology, social history and feminism, called The Making Sense Of… Podcast. We made these available to all our previous trainees, along with twice-weekly group seminars to explore each theme in more depth and offer a place to experience connection with others. 

We've had some fantastic feedback from our participants. As of early September, we entered a new phase of opening up these sessions to people we haven’t worked with before. These could be people referred to us from drug and alcohol services or who want to refer themselves. Our aim is to offer a space for community and connection at a time when so many are feeling isolated, anxious and unsure about what the future holds.

"It’s been affirming - like, I’m not going mad. I've been learning to trust myself and checking out the validity of the reality I have with everyone else here. It's helped me be able to think critically about what we’re being told and more clearly what are other people’s agendas that I don’t have to buy into." 

"It’s made me realise how we all adapt and I've seen my own inner strength. I never knew anything about Zoom! It's made me realise how adaptable I am when we’re pushed to the edge."

We know many of the people we work with have difficulty accessing things online. Digital inclusion is an ongoing challenge for us, as it is for many other addiction service providers, and it’s clear that the ways in which support is delivered will be one of the main paradigm shifts as a result of COVID-19. This will be a focus of development as we continue to release more podcasts and experiment with tools that allow us to make our online groups as accessible, dynamic and interactive as possible.

Anyone can access our podcasts by visiting the Making Sense Of... section of our website. Each podcast is accompanied by a downloadable resource, designed by our very own Bex, containing a summary of the material covered as well as suggested readings and ways to further learning around each topic. We have always maintained that the topics we discuss are relevant to everyone and not just people with histories of addiction so we encourage you to give the podcast a listen!

In addition to this, we've been holding groups for Clothing for Change course participants, who have been meeting with Bex and Heather once a week to share creative pieces they’ve been working on during lockdown. The Feminism for Change book club has been meeting virtually to discuss both read and watched material from writers Angela Davis to Virginia Woolf. 

Finally, we're super excited to welcome Antonia to the team as our new volunteer. She has completed three of our courses and has been an enthusiastic participant in our online seminars. She'll be stepping into Katie's comms shoes, who has sadly decided to leave FfC after 4 years (and more if you count being a course participant) to focus on working with food coops and feminist focussed projects not entirely unrelated!

Thank you for your continued support. Don't forget you can follow us on twitter and Facebook.

The Foundation for Change Team.