Shame and stigma are still a barrier to recovery

As part of the Fulfilling Lives Programme, our ambition is to make services easier to access by working alongside people who need, design, deliver, commission and evaluate these services. Not being able to access treatment can have a devastating impact on people and, through both lived and learned experience, we have seen how this can particularly affect those experiencing multiple disadvantages. 

With this in mind, we welcomed the opportunity to present evidence to the government’s independent review of substance use treatment services currently being undertaken by Dame Carol Black.

Our evidence was gathered by working alongside people who need services, as well as those who deliver them. FLLSL Community and Peer team and FLLSL Ambassadors spoke with people using drug and alcohol services in their local boroughs and their conversations covered the many barriers that prevent people from recovering.

The resulting report provides insight into people’s experiences and identifies seven key findings. In addition, it has shaped and informed FLLSL priorities and our commitment to systems change; specifically, the need to challenge siloed working, the demand for gender-informed approaches and the importance of building teams with both lived and learned experience.

I would really like to thank the participants who were honest, and solution-focused, the FLLSL Ambassadors, alongside those of National Fulfilling Lives programmes across England, and the National Expert Citizens Group who met with Professor Dame Carol Black in September 2020 to present these findings in person.

Our seven key conclusions are:

  1. Service delivery is too siloed

Many participants 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.

  1. 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.

  1. People do not feel safe accessing services

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

  1. Good housing is essential to recovery

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

  1. Stigma is still an issue

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

You can download FLLSL full report here and/or our Executive Summary here, If you would like to know more about the Dame Carol Black Review, you can read more here.

About Fulfilling Lives Lambeth Southwark and Lewisham

FLLSL is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and is part of the National Fulfilling 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, design, deliver, commision and evaluate these services and by thinking in a pioneering and creative way to initiate and influence change.

Diane Elizabeth Smith MBE

Head of programme

Fulfilling lives Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham.