Last month I attended Aquarius’ 5th Service User Conference ‘United in Recovery’ and I am already anticipating next year’s event.
As soon as you stepped in to the venue there was a sense of vibrancy, as one person who attended the event said ‘there was a warmth and togetherness with all people present today. It didn’t matter if you are a service user, volunteer or staff.’
There were many insightful and inspirational stories from service users speaking openly about their recovery. One member of staff read James’ story which was articulately written by the 21 year old. He spoke about how he was born addicted to heroin. Through Aquarius he had managed to escape the chaos of his life. One thing James said which stuck in my mind; ‘these places for support don’t do any good unless you’re willing to make changes yourself’- a truthful reminder that Aquarius is only a small part of someone’s recovery and Aquarius would not exist without its service users who are brave and willing enough to seek help and make change.
The day began with an icebreaker where everyone worked in teams to build a ‘spaghetti tower’ and tried to balance an orange on top. Unfortunately our team’s tower couldn’t stand without someone holding it up which seemed almost metaphorical to me because as cliche as it may sound – the day was proof that you don’t need to stand alone, we are all in it together.
One of the most successful parts of the day (aside from the Chilli and fruit platter) was the photo booth which was located in the ‘interesting room’ as Linda, our long serving volunteer kept referring to it. This was where people had seconds to put on as many silly hats and wigs as possible. I’m sure everyone would agree that all of the photos are imperfect, catching glimpses of people in weird and wonderful positions and poses –there is nothing more beautiful than a man in an orange wig, with a feather bower and glasses that are ten sizes too small. In this room there was also a live poem where people would write one line each (watch this space as this will feature in our Book of Hope.)
Ed Day, Consultant in Addiction Psychiatry and Marc Dodd High Volume Service Lead at Ambulance Service Foundation Trust attended as guest speakers and sat on the panel and answered questions posed by the audience. The founder of Aquarius Hugh Norris also attended the event after recently stepping down. He spoke about how Aquarius began and how it has changed and developed over the years, flourishing over time. Hugh is now the first reigning President of Aquarius.
All in all, the day ran smoothly with a massive thanks to our volunteers. If I had to pick three words to sum the day up, they would be UNITED IN RECOVERY.
For more pictures of the day please visit our Facebook page here
Categorised in: Aquarius