The official launch of a new 12-Step RAPt programme at HMP Brixton took place on Wednesday 29th October 2014 in the prison’s Recovery Wing. The morning commenced with a short speech from Governor Ed Tullet, describing the positive impact the programme is already having in the prison and the great atmosphere in the unit. “After only 3 weeks the RAPt programme is already set to be one of the jewels in the crown at HMP Brixton.” Clients and staff also stepped up to speak from their own perspective; among them Alan, who spoke about his long struggle with addiction and his hope that on the RAPt unit he had finally found the means to overcome it. “I’ve been a heroin addict for 30 years. I’ve been clean before for short periods, but I couldn’t stay clean. I’ve been on the RAPt unit for 3 weeks and already what I’ve learnt is changing me and making me stronger. I’m so glad you people have set this up for me. I feel next time I get out I might not be coming back.”

A RAPt Peer Supporter, working alongside staff to deliver the programme while he serves the remainder of his sentence, spoke about a childhood blighted by a parent in addiction and own his subsequent spiral into drugs and crime. “My own son is now 16 years old and I’ve spent most of his life in prison. When I wasn’t inside he’s had to witness things I wish he didn’t. I’ve basically put him through what I had to go through and that makes me ashamed. He wasn’t a priority for me – getting my next hit was my priority. Now I’m with RAPt and this is my chance to do things differently when I get out.”

Actor Jason Flemying and film director Nick Love were among the guests at the launch which included people well established in their recovery wanting to share their stories of inspiration to others just starting on the journey. “When I got clean in prison I was sitting in the visitor’s room waiting for a visit from my mother. She came towards me and I got up to hug her – she cowered away from me. That’s when it really hit home to me what I’d done. Everywhere I went I caused carnage. Building up trust has taken a long time. And staying clean is hard; I’m not going to tell you any different. Functioning outside in the world without drugs is hard, but the rewards are why you have to work at it every day. You have to be in the centre of your recovery every day. It’s like the centrifugal force of a spinning top. When you’re in the middle you’re alright. When you’re on the periphery, you’re in trouble.”

Claire Willis, Cluster Manager for RAPt has been involved with the development of the unit from the beginning. “RAPt, prison staff and the clients themselves have put so much work into setting up the unit. Following a recent visit from HMIP (Prison Inspectorate), the feedback received was that “the Drug Recovery Wing was the good news story for Brixton”. It was great to feel everyone’s efforts were acknowledged and to have the value of the unit singled out for mention.”

Keith Brixton

HMP Prison

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