Angie’s professional background is health. She holds a degree in Social Policy and a post graduate qualification in management and leadership. She has worked in the voluntary sector for the last 20 years. Angie has led a number of charities from their earliest stages of development and then onward to becoming established organisations with excellent reputations. She hopes to achieve a similar goal with UK SMART Recovery, which resonates with her personal philosophy of empowering people to ‘live life to the full’.
Matthew is the Administrator for UK SMART Recovery. He joined the organisation in April 2016 on a part time basis before taking a full-time position in November of that year. His role is to support the Business Manager with the day to day running of Central Office.
Matthew has worked in the charity sector since 2008. Firstly, as a volunteer for the British Heart Foundation locally, before joining the Citizens Advice Bureau in Stoke, also as a volunteer shortly after. A paid position followed on from his volunteering Citizens Advice a year later, where he remained until starting work for UK SMART Recovery. He has remained involvement with Citizens Advice and currently has a role on the Board of Trustees.
Dave is a National Co-ordinator for UK SMART Recovery. With the help of volunteer regional co-ordinators, he supports the network of volunteer SMART Facilitators across England. He works closely with SMART’s partners across different sectors and organisations, to improve the availability and efficacy of the SMART Programme.
He leads on delivery and continued development of SMART within the UK prisons sector. He developed Military SMART to improve the support available to serving military personnel. He works with organisations providing support for young people by delivering the ‘Teen SMART’ programme.
Dave believes SMART can be used proactively, as a preventative and educational resource not just a reactive resource for problematic behaviours after the event(s). SMART delivers positive outcomes for individuals and wider society, not just those individuals embarking upon a recovery journey from addictive behaviours… Tools for life, not just addictions!
SMART has been a large part of Carl’s personal recovery journey. From his first meeting post treatment, it really helped him challenge his thought processes. The UK SMART Recovery online training programme also gave him a purpose, along with an opportunity to give back in those early days of recovery. He set up and ran a SMART meeting for several years. Now he is grateful to be representing UK SMART Recovery as one of the National coordinators for England.
He has worked in various roles within local and regional treatment services including the NHS as a band 4 Recovery Practitioner and SUI lead, and always advocated for choice in recovery pathways. He is also a passionate harm reductionist and still do some volunteer work in his area with local service user groups.
He has been in post since March 2017 and he travels across England to connect with and support local partnerships. Carl believes it is important that SMART continues to learn, share experiences and grow the community network in the spirit of mutual-aid. With so many great things happening at UK SMART Recovery right now, it’s a great time to be involved in development and future growth.
Leigh has been involved with SMART Recovery since 2010. She first came across SMART whilst in her own addictive behaviour and it became an important part of her recovery journey. She facilitated the first peer lead meeting in Wales back in early 2011 and became an active part of the volunteer online team where she facilitated two meetings a week. In 2012 she became a Volunteer Regional Coordinator for SMART and started banging the SMART drum and knocking on every door to raise awareness. In 2013 she trained as a Family & Friends facilitator and began the first Family & Friends online meetings which have been running now for 6 years.
In 2014 Leigh became the National Coordinator for SMART in Wales, a role she is very committed to and passionate about. She works with a large portion of the substance misuse services as well as prisons, probation, rehabs, detox units, and peers out in the community. Most recently, she has started projects with a young people’s service and is looking to work on a project with the homeless community. Leigh loves her job and feels blessed every day to do what she does.
Graham has worked in the North West England for more than 30 years, raising money for charity and supporting events in his local community.
Graham is proud to say “he found a lifeline” within SMART Recovery. He learned how to regain his self-control and by using the cognitive tools within SMART programme, he was able to manage his thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Like many, Graham believes that the ‘alcoholic’ label is counterproductive and creates stigma about what is simply a behavioural issue.
It’s interesting that after addressing his own past problematic drinking, Graham was well able to maintain his own sobriety and self-control, whilst continuing to work as the proprietor of a public house. He has been sober for nearly six years and currently facilitates SMART meetings in North Wales, he trains new facilitators and works tirelessly to advocate choice and the empowerment gained from self-management in recovery.
Iain is the Community Coordinator for North and East Scotland and his experience with SMART started four years ago in a Community Rehab in Kirkintilloch. As Iain’s recovery was becoming more stable he trained as a facilitator where he helped co-facilitate and eventually hold meetings for a period of eighteen months. At the start of 2018 Iain became a Voluntary Regional Coordinator for East Dunbartonshire (just outside Glasgow). This role gave Iain a better understanding of the facilitator role and he was able to raise awareness and support individuals on their personal recovery journey. Iain is our newest member of staff and says he is looking forward to making positive impacts in the areas he will be covering in Scotland and to meeting everyone who has a passion for recovery.
Shaun is the Community Co-ordinator for Central Scotland. Shaun was a Veteran who spent 8 years in the Royal Air Force, as an Electronic Engineer Specialist. Like other veterans Shaun did tours in conflict zones in 2003 aged only 22 years old. Once he left the Royal Air Force, like many other veterans, he had trouble adjusting to civilian life, suffering from a lot of mental health, anxiety and behavioural related issues. Shaun says he was also losing friends and family to addictive behaviours, suffering more trauma. In 2016 he finally asked for help. “I was introduced to multiple agencies with UK SMART Recovery being one of them. I went on to train as a facilitator and being supported with NHS, Combat Stress I started to find purpose again. My journey had a lot of ups and downs due to how complex my situation was but using SMART and support around me, by 2018 my life took a massive turning point. All the benefits of asking for help in 2016 started to become reality, my anxiety became manageable, my unhelpful thinking changed, my purpose made me happy, my health really improved, I was volunteering, more confidence, my family benefited and many more. In 2019 I took a brief role as a SMART VRC setting up Bo’ness first meeting with a colleague and helping further develop others in workshops. I love my main purpose helping others and right now I get to do it as a career with UKSR and continue my degree in Psychology with the Open University part time. I feel very grateful”.
I’m the UK Training Co-ordinator for UK SMART Recovery as well as an experienced and ‘time served’ SMART Facilitator in the Sheffield area. I have completed both the UK SMART Facilitator training programme and the American SMART Recovery Distance Training Programme. I’ve been instrumental in the continued development of the current UK SMART Recovery online Facilitator training Programme.
I grade the Facilitator exercises and support students with feedback and mentoring via our community forums. The pass mark for each of the exercises and reviews is 85% and I support students to achieve this standard. New Facilitators need to be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the SMART Programme. I would strongly recommend students use the Facilitator Forum; to support personal development and help to improve the quality and efficacy of our meetings… It’s my belief, there’s no such thing as a silly question when you’re not sure of the answer!
I attended my first SMART meeting in January 2016 and loved it. Almost immediately something clicked, and I could see that SMART was going to work for me. Very quickly I was asked if I would like to train as a Facilitator. I had spent quite a while in rehab and was ready to move forward in my recovery journey. I wanted to give something back.
Many meetings later I read about a vacancy for a London based Volunteer Regional Co-ordinator. Luckily, I got the role, and have been happily helping with the development of SMART Recovery across London. We’re now established in several areas where the SMART option was previously unavailable. It’s been an interesting journey of discovery, London has many varied and diverse challenges but hurrah, we now have around 44 plus SMART meetings running every week and this is growing. UK SMART Recovery may be better established in London but I’m sure there will be future challenges to face!
I was first introduced to SMART in 2013. Previous to that I had spent many years in active addiction and tried a rehab programme. My drug of choice was alcohol. I tried various recovery methods unsuccessfully before discovering that SMART recovery was right for me.
I attended SMART meetings every week and they helped me to feel empowered and believe I could recover. SMART gave me tools that I could use so that I was able to develop better coping strategies. I liked that it was focussed on the present and the mutual-aid I received from other members of the group helped to motivate me to move forwards.
The SMART program helped me to focus on the behaviours that were driving me to act obsessively with alcohol, as well as other areas of my life. It helps me to manage my thoughts and emotions in a healthy way and live a balanced lifestyle now.
SMART works for me where other methods failed, it has helped me to gain control of my life again. I’m very passionate about the SMART program and so decided to train as a facilitator. I now work in the NHS addictions service and have delivered SMART into treatment centres over the last 4 years. In 2016 took on the role of VRC for North East England.
I first accessed recovery services in 2013 after my active addictive behaviour patterns spanning 28 years. I had tried other well-established recovery pathways before I discovered SMART Recovery in 2014. SMART made so much more sense to me than anything else I’d tired previously.
Subsequently, I trained as a SMART Facilitator and after running many SMART meetings, becoming ever more involved with SMART in my local, I took on the role of VRC for the North East. Thanks to SMART I have undoubtedly changed my life for the better. I have learned so much about balancing and managing my life and my recovery.
I enjoy being a VRC. It allows me to give something back to SMART and the community as a whole. It’s great supporting others to realise recovery from their addictive behaviour is possible.
I gained my recovery with SMART and I still use it every day. It’s helped me to make better choices for me, I now have more self-belief and my life is back in balance.
I am passionate about SMART Recovery and my lived experiences help me to support others in my role as VRC for London. I enjoy supporting others to find their own ways to be successful in facilitating SMART meetings. This opportunity has given me the chance to have a positive impact on UK SMART Recovery. As well as in my life’s journey in helping others.
I suffered with depression from an early age. My teenage years and early twenties were blighted with eating disorders as I muddled through life not in control of my emotions. During my mid-twenties this battle morphed into alcohol abuse as with desperation, I sought comfort and escape from my thoughts and feelings. For years I tried all sorts of mainstream and alternative therapies, but nothing seemed to make sense or work.
Last year I heard about SMART. Curious, but with the apprehension that comes from so many false starts, I started to attend my local group at ARC (CGL), Stourbridge. Something clicked! The practical nature of the toolset helped me to understand and cope with my feelings. I was encouraged to do the online SMART training which was a huge part of my recovery journey but also, a massive stepping stone for self-discovery of the real me. The support I have found within SMART has been invaluable.
Feeling ready and capable of moving forward I applied for the VRC position. It felt like the most natural thing to do. I am living proof that through SMART, lives can be turned around and now I want to ‘give a little back’. I can honestly say that, firmly in recovery and with SMART as my guide, 2018 has been the most amazing year of my life.
Vivian is originally from Edinburgh but has lived and worked in Northern Ireland for many years. During the last 15 years Vivian has worked supporting the homeless and people impacted by addictions and Mental Health. She founded Hydro-ease in 2015 and recently added Wellness Consultant NI to her business portfolio of wellbeing support services.
In addition to her busy work life, Vivian became the Volunteer Regional Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery in June 2017. As a qualified CBT therapeutic practitioner, Vivian brings a wealth of knowledge and practical experience with her to that role. Her clear understanding of human dynamics and support of effective transformational change has been instrumental in the significant growth of SMART in Northern Ireland during recent times.
I’ve been in recovery for just over 12 years from all substances and attend mutual-aid meetings. I got interested in SMART back in 2011, after hearing good things about the programme. I attended and meetings when I could and used the online training. From this I decided to give something back and after qualifying as a SMART Facilitator in 2016, I started to run smart group in my local community.
I’m very committed to and passionate about the SMART values and methods and in 2017 I became the Volunteer Regional Coordinator for SMART for Durham and the Tees Valley. I still facilitate a weekly meeting but also, look after the Tess valley region providing guidance, advice and information for local smart facilitators, to help them deliver their best for services users.
I use SMART on a daily basis, whether it’s looking at my own behaviours, or using the effective tools for life in general. I have learnt a great deal from SMART and I would recommend that you give it a go… What have you got to lose?
I helped get SMART Recovery started in Torbay nearly nine years ago. Before coming to Torquay I had problems with alcohol for many years. I was eventually referred to Walnut Lodge, our local Recovery Provider, and my life began to change for the better.
My Mentor and friend Nielsen Leahy, a worker there, found out about SMART Recovery and pushed hard to get it accepted as an after care support group for people when they left the Service. He recruited several of us in Recovery and we joined up via direct internet link to America for out SMART training. I actually got to speak to Joe Gerstein himself! We then set up two groups in Torbay.
Since then we had to pass the SMART Facilitator Course to become fully qualified but those early days were very exciting as no one here had heard of SMART Recovery before. After several years facilitating I left SMART for a year and eventually had a bad relapse.
Without the support of SMART Recovery and Walnut Lodge and the continued support of my peers things would be very different for me today!
I am now 2 ½ years into my present recovery and feel this is the time to step up and increase my involvement with SMART Recovery. This is a leading factor is my not only wanting to give back to my local community but feeling the need to extend this to encourage the growth of SMART Recovery in an area of the country which is in great need of our services.
I am really grateful to be able to take on this new role in the South West of England and help consolidate our meetings both in Devon and moving into Cornwall.