Celebrity support for addiction recovery programme.

Russell Brand backs Birmingham charity’s £250,000 fundraising appeal.

The founder of a Birmingham charity that helps people beat their addiction with drink and drugs has announced a new funding drive to secure £250,000 over the next twelve months.

Steve Dixon, CEO of Digbeth-based Changes UK, teamed up with Russell Brand to make the announcement at the Sobering Thoughts event held at the weekend.

More than 150 people attended the launch at the Hilton Metropole and heard how the organisation wants to raise enough money to launch an additional CQC-registered detox facility in Birmingham, capable of helping 100 people every year.

The well-known comedian and actor used the occasion to urge businesses to come forward and support the work of Changes UK by making a pledge to offer mentoring, volunteers, expertise and money towards the valuable work it carries out every day.

“Changing pain into purpose is the charity’s strapline and I really like that,” explained Russell. “We are dealing with people who have hit rock bottom and need something or someone in their lives that can help them find a reason to keep living and to get better.”

He continued: “Changes does just that. It gives them the detox facility and the Recovery Academy, but importantly it also provides a social enterprise model that encourages them to get out there and strive for more than just being ‘clean’.

“It gives them skills, experience, training and the confidence to get jobs and start their own businesses. If you ever need a building firm, gardener, furniture restorer or some printing doing, Steve knows just the man/woman.”

Steve, who was himself in addiction for more than 15 years, added: “This event is just the start of a series of fundraising activities that we hope will generate in excess of £250,000.

“Having Russell on board as a patron is fantastic. His energy, his passion and his profile will all be important to us and we’re already looking at a comedy showcase event for April 2017. The funding landscape is changing and we have to become as self-sufficient as possible.”

Sobering Thoughts saw Russell Brand take guests through the stories of service users and their families, how they beat their addiction and the support they require in ‘recovery’. This was followed by an evening of entertainment, including music from Pete Felton and Ashley Phelan, a silent auction and spoken word by Steven Duncan, who is currently being supported by the charity.

Steve concluded: “Over £4500 was raised at this one event and that’s just a starting point. I’m really pleased to see businesses like FBC Manby Bowdler, Greenfrog, Paul Cadman and Dynamic Marketing getting behind us and I hope a number of other local corporates follow suit.”

Employing 31 people, Changes UK provides a detox service, community-based rehabilitation, supported and move on housing and opportunities to gain accredited qualifications, volunteering and work experience.

Service users at the beginning of their recovery journey are supported 24-hours a day by qualified staff and specially trained volunteer peer mentors.

They also have access to the Recovery Academy, which, over an eight-week full time programme, begins to build the knowledge and skills they need in order to maintain recovery, build a personal recovery support network (including mutual aid groups) and learn to live life to the full.