Two men who have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction in the past are using that experience to help others turn their lives around.
The Tribal Project was founded in 2014 by Ian Edmondson and Paul Seddon to combat drug and alcohol addiction through therapy and work experience.
Ian and Paul work with individuals or groups who have problems with addiction and help them identify what has driven this person to be dependent on whatever they are addicted to.
Their main focus is on helping those with drug or alcohol issues but they offer support to anyone suffering from addiction.
They aim to reintegrate people who are on the fringes of society and give them a balanced lifestyle.
The initial point is using cognitive behavioural therapy on “people in crisis” who are still actively using their drug of choice, whether that’s street drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol.
They also deal with people having negative behaviours with issues such as gambling, relationships or food.
Ian described how they initially work with these “people in crisis”,
“They are either thinking about stopping, they want to stop but don’t know the pathway or they’ve never stopped before,
“We support them to try and make better decisions and give themselves an opportunity to have a fighting chance.”
Those people are then moved to the “recovery group” which continues the initial work and supports them through the first 3-6 months which Ian describes as often being the most difficult.
Ian said, “For the majority of addicts its easy to stop which sounds ridiculous but all of us have stopped a thousand times,
“It’s the starting again that we try to stop happening within the recovery group.”
The next stage is the “moving on group” which focuses giving these people the skills and improving their CVs to the point where they can look for work.
Tribal take on third party work with companies like the Lancashire FA or NHS trust producing corporate videos and use people from the moving on group on these projects to allow them to build a portfolio of work and improving their skills.
Not only does it give these people experience on a CV but it is transferable skills i.e. timekeeping, confidence and working in a team.
Paul stated how some of the people they work with have had no previous experience which is a stumbling block for them to go out and make a better life for themselves.
Paul said, “Some of these people have 15-20 years of no work and all they have known is a pathway to drugs and all they have been is a burden on their society.”
Tribal works to allow these people to become independent and put back into society, Ian stated, “as awful as it sounds, these people have been a drain on the community,
“Because they are using on the street and bringing drug dealers into an area.”
Paul continued, “Then you look at the bigger picture, one person can cause a cost to the police and the NHS, some people we get in here are repeat casualty people every other day and being moved from department to department.”
Tribal aim to help these people through what they describe as a “scary process”.
Paul said, “They’ve only known that one thing that they have done every day and slowly they do things outside their comfort zone and expand their life,
“They’ve obviously used to mask emotions or mask past problems, that’s where we step in and deliver a variation of workshops and build motivation over time”.
Tribal deal primarily with addiction but are connected with other organisations so if they spot an underlying issue that is causing problems they can direct that person to the correct help.
One of the techniques they use which they state can be the key factor to recovery for some is “brain training”.
Paul describes it like “going to the gym”, “we create new pathways in the brain for new behaviours and over time they stop using the old pathway, your brain is a muscle and you have the power to change your own brain.”
Tribal believe that adding structure and timetabling the people’s lives is key to them stopping using.
Paul stated, “Empty timetables lead to minds wandering, it’s about putting things in place and connecting with new people.”
This year Tribal is expanding their operations, they are increasing the number of workshops they offer from 3500 to 5000 thanks to new volunteers and funders.
Ian stated that they expect to fill those places and whilst they do not want to start a new waiting list after just clearing last years that they will never turn anyone away and that if anyone feels they have a problem to contact them.
As with any smaller independent charity, funding can be an issue and Tribal hope to gain sponsorship from local businesses that they can promote through their social media and their Youtube page which has nearly 200,000 views.
With the rising amount of people Tribal help, they need to offer more work experience.
They produce corporate media videos for businesses i.e. training videos for new recruits and hope to increase the amount they do which in turn puts back into the community by helping recovering addicts.
Ian and Paul have both have problems with addictions in the past and have been through the recovery system and they believe it is very beneficial to helping others as they have an understanding of what people are going through.
Paul said, “You can empathise with people on an unbelievable level, every emotion I think we feel for them”
Ian continued, “it still stings, in every group we do someone says something that makes my heart skip a beat because I think god remember that,
“as soon as people realise that we’ve gone through everything that they have, that connection is there, that is the strongest thing we’ve got going for us,
“We’ve experienced the good and bad of what’s out there and we know what should be happening.”
Paul hopes that they can serve as inspiration for others that they can make it, he said, “They see the progress where we are and they see that it’s achievable”.
Ian and Paul dedicate a lot of their time to Tribal and often speak to the people on the phone out of hours stating that sometimes these people just need someone to talk to when they are struggling.
Ian said, “If they phone me on a Saturday morning and say they’re struggling, I might only have 5 minutes but that could be the difference to their life,
“They might use on that Saturday and we might not see them again because they fall back into addictive behaviour.”
Tribal Project is located at Annex 1, Plungington Community Centre in Preston.
They chose that location because they wanted to put money back into another good cause and help keep the community centre open.
They also have their own Youtube channel to showcase the work of the people they help.