How did a couple of heroin addicts, still in structured treatment after decades of addiction, come to design, implement and run the first open-access peer led weekend service in London, and perhaps anywhere in the country?
How on earth did they talk their friends into helping them do it?
Why did the local Commissioner agreed to fund it, and what on earth persuaded the local treatment service to hand over the keys and alarm codes to their premises?
How did £200 and badly played game of badminton become one of the largest peer-led organisations in the country? It's a tale of audacity, commitment, stubborn determination and blind luck. And all, as the late, great Joe Cocker sang, 'With a Little Help From Our Friends.'
Over the years, a great many people have expressed an interest in how we came up with our unique form of interactive aftercare in the first place, and how that led to the eventual creation of Build on Belief as a registered charity. Rather than tell you this in a stiff, formal and self congratulatory manner, we have decided to do something else.
The story of Build on Belief has been written as a series of personal tales by the Chief Executive, who after all, like Gandalf, was there from the beginning. They include occasional reflections of a personal recovery journey, the sometimes experimental nature of our way of working, and the recollection of what would turn out to be pivotal moments in our collective journey.
The decision to write our story in this manner has been taken for two reasons. Firstly, our own volunteers and staff have been enthusiastic about reading a history of the organisation written in a manner they can relate to personally. They liked the fact that it 'felt human.'
We also hope that the following pages might in their own small way, inspire other service user groups and organisations around the country to take their own steps to a future where peer-led projects, after hours services and visible recovery become available to all.
By the way, the Chief Executive apologies for the occasional swear word that crops up here and there, but felt it was important the the story remains as 'real' as possible.
One last thing.
This is a story with a cast of many characters, all of them real and most of them still alive. It is important to recognize that what you are about to read is not some grand truth set immutably in stone for posterity, but simply my perspective, with all the flaws and human prejudices that such a telling invariably reveals. There are many who might disagree with my way of seeing things, or my version of events, and they are perfectly within their rights to do so.
If you are interested in the unfolding tale of our slow-burn creation, why not check these pages every month or so? New chapters will be added regularly.
Everything you see or read on this website was the result of a single question asked in 2004 and a remarkable coincidence. Curious? Read on . . . .
What was the impetus behind the eventual creation of our first weekend service and why did we begin with Badminton?
A mutual aid meeting and the mysterious appearance of the third man in our tale . . . .
Do you remember the days of DAAT's? We do, and our first encounter with them . . . .
We meet our peers in the wider service user involvement world, and attend our first London-wide service user meeting . . . .