Lifeline Project Annual Review 08/09

Lifeline and Our Workforce

Lifeline is a provider of a range of advice, information, treatment and reintegration services designed to promote the stability, wellbeing and recovery of people who use drugs in a way that damages them, their families and the communities in which they live. That is our purpose.

 

We have been fulfilling this role for 38 years since our foundation in 1971. We have a history of responding effectively to radical changes in both the scale and nature of drug use and to the accompanying changes in policy, strategy and funding. Changes that have often been a response to the public’s perceptions of drug use and its attendant harms and dangers.


As individual workers and managers at Lifeline we have all taken the decision to work with drugs users, regardless of their unpopularity and excluded status. We are proud, as an employer, of our reputation for rehabilitation and for the high standards, clear boundaries
and levels of support we provide for those of our staff who are ex drug users and are making their way with us as volunteers or employees.


Increasingly, we are attracting people from the private sector, some of whom have left behind handsome salaries to come and work for us. Their skills and approaches have freshened up our thinking and have invigorated our services.


Not surprisingly we have considerable numbers of social workers and nurses who provide the foundations of our palliative, treatment and safeguarding work. Our role as safeguarders of both children and young people and vulnerable adults is one of our key specialist roles. We devote considerable resource to protecting people from drug related harm and helping to keep them safe from environments where they are risk.


Our work in prisons and communities enables us to develop links with carers and families and also to help ensure that communities are able to work towards safe and strong environments in ways that do not marginalize and exclude those who come to us for help.


Our campaigning and strategic participation is critical to the successful pursuit of our purpose. We recognize that problem drug use is a product of excluded populations living in marginal communities; it is a product of structural inequality: above all, it is a product of poverty and lack of meaning and purpose. Ill health, inactivity, low educational attainment and poor housing all cluster together and where they are found, so is problem drug use.


We are, however, aware of and sensitive to the political realities and public perceptions and anxieties concerning drug use. We are aware of the continuing social and public pressures that malign and diminish the drug user as an addict, a junkie and a social parasite.

 

We are committed to fight these prejudices by engaging with the constant challenge of providing quality help and care for all those whose lives are diminished and damaged by drugs.

 

We work with people whose drug use has driven them to the margins. We, however, are not of the margins. We are and continue to aspire to be a mainstream organization commanding widespread respect and support for the difficult work we do.


A key part of our vision, therefore, is to campaign powerfully and responsibly drawing most directly and most importantly on our extensive and direct experience as a provider of services.


We are, however, just one of a large number of organisations devoted to helping drug users and their families. We do not have a monopoly of knowledge, expertise or wisdom. We constantly seek to look outwards and to learn and engage in partnership with others: in partnership with the Health Service, the Police and the Prison Service; in partnership with parents and carers as well as those beleaguered communities, always the poorest, that have to suffer drug dealing and its threats and dislocations on a daily basis.