by Michael McCarron, Senior Development Officer…
After nearly 3 years with EVOC, the time has come for Edinburgh Recovery Activities (ERA) to move on to pastures new.
For those of you unaware of the ERA story, the project began as a response to the closure of a much loved and much needed recovery project in Edinburgh. A hardy team made up of community members, volunteers and staff banded together in what was arguably, a very dark period. However, as we so often see within the recovery community, the will to start from scratch and move on was present and strong. With amazing support from the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (EADP), I was given the task of speaking to the recovery community in Edinburgh and reporting on the needs and concerns moving forward and to ultimately answer the question – What Next?
In its purest essence, the community wanted a safe space, a place to be around therapeutic support, a place to build recovery capital and a place to meet with peers and share experiences and knowledge. An interim project was formed, which became Edinburgh Recovery Activities. With the support of EVOC, ERA began putting on events and activities and even more importantly, providing support to the community and filling the gap that had been left. Weekly groups, one off events, drop in spaces, signposting, advice, accessing support, highlighting amenities and many other arms became a daily part of life with ERA.
In the past few years, the project has gone from strength to strength, becoming dynamic, inclusive and innovative and capable of responding quickly and concisely. This was in large part thanks to many people. The ERA Steering Group has proved pivotal in decision making, guidance and insight – we are truly grateful to have had such amazing support from them and look forward to a future that continues to utilise their positive input. Likewise, EVOC has been exceptional. For Jemma and myself, EVOC has been like having an incredibly supportive family backing us. Always on hand with knowledge and advice, providing us with support and allowing us the freedom to try, adapt, revise and proceed. Without EVOC, ERA would never have covered the ground it has and we will always think of our time there with great happiness and thanks. I’m sure we will continue to work closely with EVOC – no doubt, firing more questions to the staff team, whom we have yet to stump – and look forward to a future that they have helped shape. From Wednesday 1 September we officially join the team at Cyrenians who are already supporting the next stage in ERA’s development – finding, creating and opening a safe space for the recovery community in Edinburgh. An exciting time ahead for sure.
Before we go though, Jemma and I want to take a minute to say how much we will miss not only the support of EVOC as a team, but also the banter at team meetings and events. We will never forget the responses for the Christmas party survey nor the insanely hot staff trip to a nuclear power station. We have to say a special thanks to the management team: Ella, Ian and in more recent times, Bridie. Likewise, Maria was instrumental with helping us travel in the right direction. Whilst we ready ourselves to say goodbye to EVOC and hello to Cyrenians, we will always be grateful for our time at Ferry Road.