Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Delivering the DARS service at HMP Liverpool


Delivering the DARS service at HMP Liverpool

26 June 2019

Sandra Dutton, Prison Manager at the Change Grow Live Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service, (DARS) shares the highlights of her first 12 months working at HMP Liverpool. The service is delivered in partnership with Spectrum and Mersey Care under the banner of Better Health Liverpool.

Change Grow Live Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service has come a long way in the last 12 months, with a new staffing structure and new roles including Connecting Community Engagement Worker, Engagement Recovery Coordinator, Service User Involvement Lead, Peer Mentor and Volunteer Coordinator. 

These roles are linked with all departments across HMP Liverpool. As a busy local prison, we focus on service users whose behaviour may be difficult to manage and need additional support on release. Our workers are on hand at reception and on the segregation unit, offering help to people who often have long histories of substance misuse and offending.

Workshops and groups

We have encouraged the whole team to help shape our service. We have worked hard to increase the number of groups we run. These include peer-led mutual aid groups attended by community members of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 

The programme team is now trained to deliver Self-management and Recovery Training (SMART) for anyone on our caseload who wishes to engage. We also provide a range of sessions which cover topics such as alcohol, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), substance misuse, harm reduction and self-esteem.

Family and remembrance days

At Christmas and Easter, we invite close members of a service user's family and partners to the prison to spend some quality time together. Agencies from the community attend to provide advice and additional support.

Drug and Alcohol Remembrance days have also proven popular. We have held these at times of bereavement, for people to remember loved they have lost through substance misuse.

Community engagement

In March, we ran our first volunteer day with members of the community who had expressed an interest in working with our service. Volunteering roles not only support the team within HMP Liverpool but also enhance the volunteers' professional development.

Our dedicated Connecting Communities and Revolving Door Coordinator roles work across the prison and community. We have introduced the recovery inclusion meeting, which brings together representatives from all community and prison criminal justice providers, including probation, Community Rehabilitation Companies, and the data team.

This meeting has enabled us to create closer links and joint working, which will contribute to a better experience for men leaving prison. Staff from community agencies such as 'Liverpool Addaction' and 'Wirral Ways to Recovery' are now vetted to carry out pre-release meetings with our service users. We also arrange gate pickups to ensure that men with complex needs arrive at their destination safely.

Service User Involvement (SUI) and peer mentors

The vision for SUI is to empower service users by involving them in the design and delivery of our service and our policies and procedures. We do this by regularly collecting their feedback via surveys and forums. We also work with several nominated service user involvement reps, who report into quarterly regional meetings. SUI reps are not able to physically attend the regional meetings, but our plan is for them to take part via Skype.

Service users can also apply to join our team of peer mentors who offer lived experience of prison and who are integral to our work. Peer mentors have a defined role and receive full training so they can provide support safely. They can also access 1-1 supervisions, group supervisions and observed practice. 

Changing cultures

Our partners - Spectrum and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have welcomed Change Grow Live as an integral part of the Better Health Liverpool partnership. There are many opportunities to network and to highlight good practice, which helps the partnership to develop and grow. Showing collaboration and support helps us to deliver cohesive care for our service users and has enabled us to focus on complex cases and detox planning.

The team are inspirational and pride themselves on delivering the best possible interventions to our service users. We will continue to be creative and update the content of group sessions to meet the ever-changing needs of the establishment.