In 2009 I got my first, part time, temporary, minimum wage job working for the Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Team, my role was service user involvement lead and one of my main responsibility’s was to support the Lancashire User Forum. My line manager thought it would be good idea for me to do a bit of research and we agreed attending the National Drink and Drug news conference in Birmingham would be a great place to start. I was entering employment as a 38 year old man for the first time in my life and to say I was completely out of my depth is an understatement, I didn’t even know what harm minimisation was. However, did understand and support the concept.

Needless to say, I got the job, despite having a lengthy criminal record and being rejected by one of the country’s leading recruitment agencies. Eventually I found one willing to take me on their books and I started work. Keeping this job meant I could feed and clothe my daughter. I was determined to be a success.

The DDN conference blew me away right of the bat, I came into contact with lots of people who were just like me and I felt at home amongst them, and more to the point, they were role models in the community and making a real difference to peoples life’s in a fantastic and inspirational way.

One of the presentations was delivered by Tim Sampey, he was talking about the London User Forum from the front stage, everything he was saying struck a chord with me to the point where I was determined, one day, I was going to be telling my peers on a national platform about the work I was involved with in Lancashire, Tim not only inspired me but has also been really supportive to me. He has always willing to share he’s experience. Tim has been very generous helping me to establish policy and practice as I set about building the up Lancashire User Forum and Red Rose Recovery.

Nothing ever seems to be too much for him, and this is the first opportunity I’ve been given to properly thank him and also publically acknowledge the inspiration I have taken and has been freely given.


Peter Yarwood


Red Rose Recovery Ltd.