This week is Alcohol Awareness Week and this year’s theme is Alcohol & Mental Health. At People’s Voice Media, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on work we’ve carried out with people with alcohol addictions, and the learnings we’ve made to help services better support those on the road to recovery.

In the course of our work, we’ve gathered stories from people recovering from alcohol addiction, with the discussion particularly focused on the process of recovery: what recovery means to them, the support available, what works, and what doesn’t.

Throughout our chats, the idea that kept coming up was that recovery was akin to going on a journey, to being reborn. Recovery isn’t a quick fix, or a cure, but rather a hopeful journey that takes the person experiencing it to a new way of living.

We also uncovered a variety of learnings about why some recovery services work better than others, and what people living with addictions would like to see from the services supporting them.

  • Recovery is not a box-ticking exercise and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. It’s a non-linear journey so a one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work.

You know, many years ago, if you couldn’t attend an appointment then you’d be sent a letter, you know, you’ve missed your appointment, you’ve missed your appointment, we’re closing your file. But now, you know, we’re evolving where we can we will come and see you and work around the client.” He goes on to say that this change in delivery is brilliant.

Person in recovery
  • While some people with addictions will have shared experiences, this does not mean they have the same experiences. So, while some aspects of recovery, such as detox and rehab, are standard, a person-centred approach needs to be taken in order for each individual’s circumstances to be taken into account.
  • Recovery does not happen in isolation. Each person has their own recovery community that can include Recovery Workers, care workers, social workers, medical professionals, family and friends. The more people supporting the service user, the more tailored their recovery journey can be. And the less isolated the person in recovery is, the more their recovery is likely to succeed.

I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for the support networks. I don’t believe I’d be here now at all, and I’m very, very grateful.

Person in recovery
  • If more people are involved in an individual’s recovery, then less pressure is on the Recovery Worker since they are not the only source of support for that person and this, in turn, means that they are able to help service users more effectively and take care of their own wellbeing.

Ultimately, the biggest learning to come out of the stories we gathered is that people should be treated as more than just their addiction in order to support their recovery from it.

For more information on how you can get involved in Alcohol Awareness Week, visit Alcohol Change UK.


Last week we teamed-up with the Italian pilot in the CoSIE project to deliver their local summative knowledge exchange that look at what they had learned during their pilot and what they were going to do next.

The Italian pilot has been focused on reducing childhood obesity in Reggio-Emilia and have been working with different health care professionals, families and other wider stakeholders to co-design an App aimed at addressing this issue. This summative knowledge exchange took the format of a ‘Living Lab’ and used different ‘boundary objects’ created during the pilot as stimuli for reflective discussion, as well as linking this learning to future activities.

In the event we explored ideas about how to launch the App and how language would play a key role in connecting it with families. Learnings from previous engagement activities with families about the words they used to describe health and wellbeing were used as a basis for this discussion. We also reflected back on the different co-creation activities that had been incorporated into the pilot. Using a stakeholder map from the beginning of the pilot, attendees of the event identified a range of activities they had been involved in. They are now using these on a matrix document to evaluated the impact of them.

A key part of the event, was reflecting on the role of the Consulting Committee in the project. The Consulting Committee is a group of cross-sector professionals who have been part of the co-creation activities in the project and this innovation has helped to breakdown silo working and thinking, thus promoting collaboration and expertise-sharing. The attendees of the summative knowledge exchange used Flinga as a way of organising their thoughts on the Committee and how this approach (or group of people) can be used in future to drive forward social innovations in health care in Reggio-Emilia.

The People’s Voice Media provided the online facilitation that supported this exchange and also captured some people’s experiences of the pilot via a storytelling activity. What we loved about this event, is that it was using ‘evaluation’ not as an end point, but as a driver for on-going change, learning and development. So despite it being called as ‘summative knowledge exchange’ due to the pilot and CoSIE project approaching their end, the session was focus on what is going to happen next, which we believe is key to maintaining and improving public services.


Community Reporting is a digital storytelling movement that started in 2007. At its essence, is people using digital tools such as smartphones, tablets and now Zoom to gather lived experience stories from people that they know. Using the Internet, digital media, events and much more, the Community Reporter movement shares these stories with other people, groups and organisations who are in a position to make positive social change.

Fundamental to Community Reporting is the belief that stories are vehicles that build bridges between people and support common understanding. The Community Reporters gather stories on all kinds of topics from across different countries. Take Patrick’s story for example. In this story he shares his experience of volunteering during the pandemic. You can also look at aar0nn’s story about their visit to the Poppy Trail in the Remembrance Woodland area at Rozelle Park or listen to the story Mistarareunite captured in Germany about a Computer Science student’s experiences of physical distancing measures. You also might want to hear what vanessa123 says about her experiences of with social workers or Shaked’s story about applying for asylum.

The Community Reporter website currently has over 5700 stories of people’s experiences of world and here at People’s Voice Media we are completely committed to working with our movement to use the knowledge in these stories to create social change. We do this in various ways, such as writing policy papers (like this one on re-humanising public services), creating short video edits on specific topics (like this one aimed at opening up a conversation about FGM), releasing playlists of extracts on specific topics that share different perspectives (like these on co-production) and much more.

But we know that none of this would be possible without our Community Reporters and their stories. So as part of Make A Difference Day 2020, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has shared a story with us over the years and have played their part – one story at a time – in making our world a better place to be!


This week it is European Local Democracy Week (ELDW). This pan European event is targeted specifically at local and regional authorities (local communities, cities, municipalities, provinces, regions). The general aim is to promote and foster democratic participation at a local level throughout public initiatives which involve citizens.

“Local democracy: building trust. Co-designing local democracy together with citizens and practicing open government” is the leading theme of 2020.

Coinciding with this week’s events we had a planning meeting today, to co-create training for the EUROSPECTIVES 2.0. This is an Erasmus Plus project that we are working on with other European partners 

This is inspiring Erasmus project brings together knowledge, experience and skills from a number of EU organisations, from Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy and the UK.  Getting our heads together and co-creating a Digital Storytelling curriculum for non-formal and formal educators, facilitators and activists. 

Despite the pandemic we are moving forward using online platforms, and today we had a meeting to plan blended training for the new year. We are all itching to get started and test out our modules and sessions. 

#ErasmusDays  #ErasmusDays2020  #ErasmusPlus #Europe #edchat #edtech #edpolicy #edreform #teachers #openaccess #OER #STEAM #STEM #artsed #elearning #classroom #teachers #cpchat  


Digital Collaborations was the final event of Doing It With Others: Why Proper Collaboration Really Matters, the ICR’s second annual conference and, with circumstances being what they are, it couldn’t have been more apt.

Held as an online knowledge exchange, the event was a chance to talk about one of the European projects on which PVM is a partner: Co-Engage, although naturally the talk also turned to the necessity of digital collaboration as we live through the age of COVID-19.

The panel of speakers included Martin Barthel (CRN), Belén Fernandez (l’Échappée des Copropriétés), and PVM’s own Hayley Trowbridge. Martin gave a great overview of the Co-Engage, a project bringing together a range of best practices for engaging citizens across Europe, which the participants were very excited about. Next, Belén posed questions on her own experience of taking her work online – an environment to which it’s not normally suited – during the global pandemic. The participants found this very engaging and there was much discussion on whether we’re evolving online consciously, or whether we are being pushed by circumstance into something less than ideal. Finally, Hayley spoke on taking storytelling online, reflecting on what PVM has learned over the last few months and the tools we’ve been using.

After our panel spoke, we opened the virtual floor to a lively and interesting discussion on our own experiences of and musings on digital collaborations. It was exciting to see so many new collaborations forming, both in the main room and in the text chat, with participants networking with each other and forming new connections.

Digital Collaborations was a great way to end what had proved to be a very different annual conference. It was our most international event, with UK participants joined by those from Germany, France, Hungary and even Australia (this is the furthest flung participant we’ve ever had, as well as the latest anyone has ever stayed up for one of our events!). It brought up interesting questions and endless debate during a time when digital collaborations have become an absolute necessity.