'Selfless action is a source of strength.'

This month we say goodbye to the excellent Robert McKenzie in his role as a trustee for Build on Belief. Robert has not only been a trustee of Build on Belief from the day the charity was registered, but indeed has been a supportive presence from the days before any of us had ever heard of service user involvement, let alone dreamed of planting the tiny seed from which all else would blossom.

Robert was the first drugs worker that I met when I wandered, forlorn and desperate into the Blenheim Project in 2004, finally ready to deal with the opiate addiction that all but eaten me alive over the previous twenty-five years. Not only was hugely supportive to me the early days of my recovery, but he was there the day we received our first funding and supported myself and Tel when we set up the Wednesday Badminton Club, our first little project. Throughout the early years of the SUDRG (the Kensington and Chelsea Service Users Drug Reference Group), our local service user community that would eventually become Build on Belief, Rob was our constant companion and sounding board as we developed the ideas and processes that would lead to the formation of the original weekend social club.

His willingness to support our insistence on total independence, his patience with our wild enthusiasms and his belief that we could achieve our ever more ambitious plans and ideas, played a small but vital role in encouraging a pair wide-eyed chancers to reach out and grab at their dreams.

When the SUDRG was incorporated into a charity and re-named Build on Belief, Robert was one of the first people I asked to become a trustee. Not because he had any expertise or knowledge in creating a charity, not because he particularly understood finance or the necessities of writing policies and procedures, but because he had a good heart, a genuine understanding of what we were trying to do, and because he was a man that could be trusted. I wanted someone who would cover my back in this strange new world, and he was the man.

Build on Belief is not the work, or the achievement of a single person, but rather the collective effort of many people over many years; with different skill sets and levels of involvement, but a single desire – let’s make this thing work.

Robert, you have literally been there from the very beginning, and in some small way this is as much your achievement as it is ours. We are going to miss you, and there is nothing left to do but bow low and say, ‘this is a man we were lucky to have met and honoured to have worked with.’


Tim Sampey

Chief Executive Build on Belief

September 2020