Cascade Coffee Shop – The Story of Community Recovery & Asset Based Development.
Cascade Coffee Shop – the Story of Community Recovery & Asset Based Development.
Pete Davies, Founder of Cascade Creative Recovery, talks us through this incredible journey.
In 2012, a group of service users and people who had recently existed treatment delivered the biggest recovery orientated event that year, the 4th UK Recovery Walk, the first of its kind in Brighton & Hove. The event took a year to organise with zero funding, one laptop between half a dozen of us and no prior experience of organising a national event through to delivering a highly visible celebration of recovery with almost 3,000 people walking through the streets of the city followed by an afternoon and evening of music and dancing in the early autumn sun….Job done!
The success of the event was dependent on belief, faith, collective willpower and assets. These assets were buried under the rubble of active drug addiction and alcoholism, undiscovered by key workers or care coordinators or during therapeutic sessions. When you’re sifting through a lifetime of wreckage there isn’t much chance to find out what, in recovery, you are capable of.
Eventually, some financial investment from,CRI (a national treatment provider), the Government and Brighton & Hove City Council, the hustling instincts of a group of people who survived horrendous self–destruction, the event not only happened but was an incredible success, demonstrating to local services exactly what recovery, (as opposed to harm reduction), was all about. Social networks, camaraderie, using the tools recently learned and rediscovering abilities and skills that had always existed made it all possible!
As the result of that success we sat down, reflected and asked ourselves what next… Our lived experience told us that there was a need for a place, independent of traditional services, peer-led, where all of the recovery community, including family, friends and people in recovery, can connect and mutually support each other. Somewhere that was not specifically fellowship or Service based, but community based, visible and easily accessible. A place where recovery capital could be rapidly accrued through meaningful, esteem building creative projects (Brighton & Hove has a very vibrant arts scene so we identified that as a local asset that could be accessed.)
In March 2013, we submitted an application to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, having identified that configuration as the correct one to carry out our aims. Our application was accepted in September 2013. While waiting for the application to be processed we joined an umbrella organisation for groups, social enterprises and smaller charities called Community Works, thus placing ourselves firmly in the third/voluntary sector and less dependent on service providers. We recruited trustees who had particular skills, sourced appropriate training, set up a recovery choir, organised social events, attended and delivered workshops at conferences and symposiums in order to build our profile while networking and learning.
Our biggest challenge was realising our dream of the Cascade Coffee Shop. Once again, we found ourselves in the position of challenging the misconceptions which surround people who have or are working their way from drug addiction and alcohol issues. Our experience is that those outside of the ‘recovery bubble’, (the Police, council officers, local business people, landlords etc) are deaf to the term RECOVERING addict or RECOVERING alcoholic. They only hear the latter part. However, the Manager of a local women’s project, Oasis, pointed us in the direction of an understanding landlord and after a year of looking for an appropriate premises, we signed a lease in April 2014.
We accessed some capital funding from Public Health England and employed a builder to start on the structural work needed for the Cascade Coffee Shop to open. During this work, we continued build our presence in the city. It became apparent after the initial work that if we continued using a professional building company we would run out of money with only half the job done. We took another leap of faith and took on the build ourselves, reaching out to the recovery community to provide the skills while we sourced the materials. We asked and they came! Sourcing free or at cost materials from builders merchants, we delivered a high specification coffee shop and upstairs creative/meeting space in mid-February.
We are now open for business! We have created an ‘out of hours’ safe space, we are running our choir and theatre group from the premises, and we are providing an affordable space for a variety of mutual aid groups to hold meetings. By connecting, creating, and empowering, we have created an asset for the recovery community and we are working hard to source an appropriate level of funding to nurture and sustain this asset.