Fulfilling Lives LSL welcomes the findings from the Dame Carol Black Review of Drugs

The Dame Carol Black Review of Drugs, published earlier this month, has identified challenges which are in line the evidence we provided to the review, based on local people’s experiences in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham.

The Review was set up to consider what might be preventing people from successfully accessing drug and other support services and we presented our findings in 2020 through our National Expert Citizens Group (NECG). The NECG is a group representing people who have personal experience of drugs and accessing drug services.

We identified seven key findings locally, which are reflected in the national Dame Carol Black Review. These are:

1. Service delivery is too siloed

Many people we talked to spoke about the challenges they face when experiencing both substance use and mental health support needs. Services are not currently set up to effectively respond to dual diagnosis, which leaves people without access to support.

2. Information should be available in more ways

People told us they needed information relating to support services and treatment options to be provided in multiple ways. Without access to information, people did not know where or how to go to get support.

3. People do not feel safe accessing services

Our research highlighted the need for services to feel more physically and psychologically safe, particularly for women.

4. Good housing is essential to recovery

Participants talked about the importance of having access to the right kind of affordable and appropriate housing as essential to recovery.

5. Stigma is still an issue

Our conversations with people identified that shame and stigma are still a barrier to recovery, and that both are felt from many sources including family, employers, and services.

6. Services should offer more choice

People highlighted the need for choice and autonomy; both in relation to treatment options and in relation to the planning of their care. They felt that flexibility from services is key to
helping people connect and this includes flexible appointment times and varied methods of engagement.

7. Peer support is welcomed

People we spoke to told us that they value support from someone who has experienced something similar to them. In particular, they value peer support as the first point of contact with a service.

Diane Elizabeth Smith, MBE, who heads up the Fulfilling Lives programme for Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham commented:

“We know that there are many barriers in place for people experiencing multiple disadvantage to access drug and alcohol support. We support the recommendations suggested by Dame Carol Black and look forward to these being implemented at pace so that people who need access to drug and alcohol services, are enable and empowered to do so.”

Find out more

Read the full report about the evidence we submitted to the Dame Carol Black Review here.

Read an Executive Summary of our evidence and findings here.

Read a blog about our evidence from our Head of Programme, Diane Elizabeth Smith MBE here.


For further information please contact

Ruth Atkinson

Innovation and Evaluation Lead



About Fulfilling Lives Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham (FLLSL)

FLLSL is part of the Lottery-funded National Fulfilling Lives programme. We acknowledge that systems don’t work for everyone – particularly people who experience greater levels of disadvantage – and our ambition is to make services easier to access. We do this by working alongside people who need, deliver and commission these services and by thinking in a pioneering and creative way to initiate and influence change.