Street art captures recovery journey


The Substance Misuse Service in Calderdale has been using graffiti as an innovative way to explore the journey of a recovering drug user.

Calderdale Substance Misuse service provides specialist assessment, interventions and treatment for adults experiencing alcohol or drug-related problems. The service provides treatment programmes, based on the best possible evidence that will have positive outcomes on health, crime, personal and social functioning.

People who are referred to the service as part of a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement set by the Criminal Justice System are required to take part in an intensive and structured drugs treatment intervention. As part of this treatment, the service’s Criminal Justice team explored ways of approaching the recovery journey and choices that people using drugs will face along the way.

With the help of funding from the Trust’s Innovations Fund, the team were able to purchase the materials needed such as spray paints to take on the project.

Members of the group shared their ideas on what should be depicted in the art, which would then be put together in a storyboard. The team enlisted the help of a Halifax-based graffiti artist to bring the thoughts and feelings of service users to life.

Each of the boards shows a different part of the journey from the chaos of taking drugs to an addict asking why, to being arrested and weighing up the options of continuing as a drug user or getting clean. A poem written by one service user has also been included. The project was completed over 15 weeks and different people were able to get involved each time they attended their DRR session.

Speaking about the project Donna Kershaw, care coordinator, said, “The project has really got people thinking about recovery versus addiction. We were able to use different people’s ideas to make up the boards and we’ve been able to come up with a really collective picture of recovery and the struggles people will face. Now that the art is completed we hope that this will continue to trigger thoughts with our current and future service users.”

The graffiti boards are now on display at the service’s base at School House in Halifax.

Street art captures recovery journey

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