A growing UK network
Mary Halsey, UK Coordinator for ISAAC reflects on the past year and how the ISAAC UK network is experiencing organic growth and change:
I have been blessed to coordinate the ISAAC UK Region for several years now. I’d love to share with you what has been happening and some of our plans for the future.
When I started there were two established regional meetings where committed members came together to pray and share fellowship. The small UK team had also run some excellent events. Since then, through a process of seeing and responding to needs and listening to Godly wisdom, three main streams to our work in the UK have emerged. These are: regional groups, the UK conferences and training.
ISAAC Regional Groups
The aim of these groups is to connect and encourage Christians at a local level who are involved in any kind of addiction/recovery work. These groups can only run when local ISAAC members in the regions give their time to facilitate them. My role is to support local leaders in this. There are currently 6 groups running across Wales, England and Scotland.
Most groups aim to meet around three or four times a year. Each one is free to run the meetings in the way that works best for them in their locality. Generally, the meetings are hosted by a different organisation each time. This is an example of a plan for one of our meetings:
- Introductions and thought for the day
- Tour of the host organisation
- Updates from everyone present and sharing prayer requests
- Prayer for each other
Sometimes the meetings are small, with around 4 or 5 people, with others attended by up to 25 people. No matter how many people attend, we continually get feedback that it is so worthwhile to take time out to make significant connections with like-minded people who understand the unique challenges and joys of the work. For many, their work can at times be draining, challenging and isolating but they often leave the meetings feeling more refreshed, re-envisioned and with a sense of being part of God’s bigger plan.
Chris Milton, who co-ordinates the ISAAC Midlands group commented about one of their meetings: ‘…we are growing in unity as a group, supporting those working to support those in addiction across the Midlands. We had five organisations represented at the meeting with different people making connections, praying for and supporting others…that’s ISAAC!’
ISAAC also aims to resource new and developing projects and many group members share ideas and give vital advice and support to each other. Rev Dr Richard Pollard says, “I have the privilege of leading a steering group that is seeking to establish a Christian based recovery centre in Bristol. Tref, on behalf of ISAAC, has provided us with invaluable wisdom and guidance. He has done this through both visiting the group and providing us with a fantastic consultant to help us move forward. We are very grateful for ISAAC.”
ISAAC UK Conference
Over the last three years we have been running annual conferences in different parts of the UK. These day-long events have included a mixture of worship, workshops, speakers sharing their expertise and experience on a range of topics and lots of opportunities to network. Our last conference was held in Leeds and attended by around 85 people from all over the UK. Our theme was ‘Who Is On Your Team?’, looking at the importance of community in recovery.
For resources from the 2017 and 2018 UK conferences see our resources page.
Some ISAAC members who are passionate about seeing the UK Church respond to the issue of addictions in the country have recently developed and run training under the banner ‘Living Recovery’. We have started by running two exciting Biblically-based courses in the UK. The two courses are:
Developing Recovery Communities
This course is aimed at Christians / Churches who see a need and maybe have some experience of working with people in addictions but are unsure of their next steps in helping people into recovery.
This course gives an overview of the addiction problem in the UK and how it affects individuals, families and communities. Those attending will discover what addiction is, it’s effects and how they can assist in the recovery process.
Foundations in Addiction Recovery (FiAR)
This is more comprehensive 10 module course, normally taken over five days, covering drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, co-dependency and addictive behaviour. This is for staff and volunteers working in the addictions field or involved in an existing Church ministry or project.
The first FiAR course was run at Yeldall Manor Rehabilitation Centre. Mark Wood, one of the tutors, who helped to develop the course said: “Living Recovery’s Foundations in Addiction Recovery course aims to equip volunteers and professionals with a sound psychological and spiritual basis for their work helping people with addictions into recovery.
This first course at Yeldall Manor has helped meet a need for professional Christian training for this respected Rehabilitation Centre to equip their support staff. Blending theory with practice that has been tried and tested in the field, students on Living Recovery’s FiAR course benefit from experienced tutors with relevant expertise. Using a variety of different teaching methods there are also plenty of opportunities for students to learn from each other in group discussions and role plays”.
Siggi (a student of the course) shared: “I really enjoyed the course and I learned so much which I can use for my future, not only here at Yeldall but also for my regular work and in my private life”.
Please use our new training e-mail (email@example.com) if you want to discuss more about this training in your context.
Plans for the future in the UK
I’m really encouraged by all that is happening in the UK. Some of our aims over the next year in the UK are to see:
- Each of the Regional Groups grow in numbers, with new people and projects benefitting from the sense of community and mutual support that the groups can bring.
- The Living Recovery training being used to increase the confidence of Christians to assist people in recovery in a way that works in their locality
We are also looking at possible plans for regional ISAAC Events in early 2020. Watch this space!
Please feel free to email me if you would like to know more about anything I have shared (firstname.lastname@example.org)