Volunteers working in our resilience activities have all overcome significant personal issues. Those that have struggled with alcohol and/or drugs are now living substance-free lives.
They use their own experiences of substance misuse and recovery to educate students, parents and teachers about the underlying reasons why some young people use drugs and alcohol to change the way they feel, and what can be done to prevent this.
Volunteers gain confidence and self-esteem, improve their presentation and interpersonal skills, and increase their access to training, education and employment.
All our team members graduate from an accredited training programme. To be able to participate, volunteers must be in stable recovery and pass disclosure and barring checks (DBS).
Volunteers said their experiences with the programme could be applied to further training opportunities (82%), further and higher education (87%), and paid employment opportunities (84%)*.
75% of volunteers said they were more confident and 76% saw improved self-esteem following participation*.
Volunteers reported improved planning skills (62%), interpersonal skills (75%), presentation skills (64%) and communication skills (71%)*.
*Stats from Year 2 of an independent evaluation of the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme, led by a team based between Harvard University and the University of Bath, 2016
It’s one of the best things I’ve done in four years of volunteering. All the work I’d done previously was geared toward helping adults already in addiction so I’m very grateful to have had the chance to maybe help even one young person avoid that.
I’m now in full time employment working with adult offenders but I wouldn’t have got this job if it were not for the experience and support I was given.
"The training was so supportive and really interesting. The close supervision from my line managers was so valuable, it’s something that we all need in early recovery.
AWF really supported me to do my first share in a school. I always describe the feeling of coming out of a school after a share as being something like no drug could ever give someone – you feel on top of the world.
I started to get a sense that I was really helping people, especially when young people would come to speak to me after the session and share their own experiences, seeking out help and support for themselves.
When I first came into recovery I was terrified of professional people, but the respect from staff in schools and other agencies built my confidence and self-esteem so that I am used to working alongside professional people these days.
I felt like I was back in the real world and in amongst all the other people going about their jobs. Working with AWF made me feel like a million dollars.
"I have suffered with addiction since the age of 12 when I first started using mind altering substances. In 2016, I hit my lowest point [and] my mother wrote a letter to the Amy Winehouse Foundation asking for help.
I was offered a place in a rehabilitation centre [where] I was finding new things out about myself – aspirations and passions that had been clouded for years.
I was offered the chance to go into local schools and colleges to share my story in the hope that it might help somebody else.
I began training…and I got to know volunteer coordinators and staff who helped support me…and most of all they lit the fire in my stomach which made me want to better myself and work in the young people’s substance misuse service."
On the outside, I had a perfect life and was working in a high profile career. That was before my addictions started to cause consequences in my life and to the people around me.
I’d been struggling for years with undiagnosed mental health problems triggered by childhood trauma, and I had been self-medicating with a combination of alcohol and drugs from the age of 13.
In truth, I had been an addict for many years, but I finally realised that I had addiction problems when I suffered a miscarriage in October 2013. My drinking took on a new meaning and became my primary coping mechanism.
Soon after this, my workload increased dramatically and I discovered that I needed more than a ‘little drink’ to get started in the morning. Due to the nature of my career I was able to hide my growing alcoholism in plain sight. I also believed that because I lived in a big house in the Surrey Hills, drove a nice car, was happily married and had three beautiful children, I ‘had it all under control’.
But the disease of addiction is progressive and doesn’t discriminate and by 2016 things began to unravel. My husband left and my children went to live with their father. I lost my job and my reputation, and I alienated my friends and family. This was when I first started to attempt to come into recovery.
After two years of many near-death experiences, and being raced to rehabs and hospitals, I finally made it into recovery at a rehab in South West London in 2018. I’m now three years clean and sober.
After coming in to recovery I realised I was at a turning point in my life. Recovery helped me to understand how my addictions were rooted in my childhood experiences, and to process the choices I’d made in my youth. It taught me what is truly important in life.
Since the start of 2020, I’ve been a volunteer for the Amy Winehouse Foundation and I share my experiences as part of the Resilience Programme for Schools.
This has been extremely rewarding for me. I have discovered that sharing my experience, strength and hope with children in such a way that I can inspire hope and empowerment that there is a ‘better way’ than the path I chose, makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with my life and giving back.
I believe a career helping others with their wellbeing and mental health is where my future lies.