Entertainer Russell Brand helps officially launch the new Shoots for Recovery centre in Yardley, Birmingham (Photograph: Jess Phillips)
Entertainer Russell Brand helps officially launch the new Shoots for Recovery centre in Yardley, Birmingham (Photograph: Jess Phillips)

Comedian, actor and activist Russell Brand today opened a new drugs recovery centre in the Digbeth area of Birmingham.

The 40-year-old entertainer, who is an ardent substance abuse rehabilitation campaigner, spoke to attendees at the newly-opened Recovery Central centre in Digbeth, before officially launching the project.

The new £1m centre aims to help people recovering from drugs and alcohol addiction rebuild their lives and is one of the largest venues of its kind ever built in the UK, providing a one-stop shop for the recovery community, including a new café and restaurant, the city’s first dry bar, a business incubation space and a multi-purpose conference centre.

Through the social enterprise work at Recovery Central, individuals on abstinent recovery are given volunteering and training opportunities, work experience and employment for the recovery community and sustainable income through Changes UK.

“This is a massive milestone in our nine-year history and will help us deliver our sector leading support to even more people,” explained founder Steven Dixon, who beat a 15-year addiction with alcohol and drugs to establish Changes UK.

“Our service works because it is peer led (by people who have been in similar situations and come through them) and focuses not only on tackling the problems, but also giving individuals support and opportunities once they are in recovery. This has resulted in the vast majority of our clients (78%) staying clean and building new lives, a staggering success rate when you consider the national average is just 8%. It’s all about connection, empowerment and raising aspirations by giving them access to training, volunteering and employment.

Funded by Public Health England, the 50,000 sq. ft centre in Digbeth also houses three social enterprises started by people who have been supported by the charity, a gardening business, building company, a state-of-the-art recording studio and a recovery radio station.

The revenue generated through the different activities will be channelled into the work of the charity, whose aim is to become fully self-financing whilst continuing to support more than 200 people every year to overcome their addictions.

One of the local projects working with the new centre is Shoots of Recovery, the brainchild of Birmingham-based entrepreneur and former alcoholic Rhys Morgan. Rhys, who saw a gap in the market for fresh, locally-produced salad leaves, was keen to combine his business idea with a meaningful program of activity to help people recovering from the grip of addiction, homelessness and crime, Shoots of Recovery was born and has since won a ‘Do It’ Award from UnLtd, the UK’s largest support network for social entrepreneurs.

They were joined by was Yardley constituency MP Jess Phillips (Lab) who praised Brand for his support, using the hashtag #EndTheStigma.

According to the team behind the recovery centre, “Shoots of Recovery is a new social enterprise providing support, training, employment and social integration via food production in Birmingham.

“We supply fresh, top-quality salad leaves to local businesses and food-lovers across Birmingham and the West Midlands, at the same time as helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community to rebuild their lives.

The Shoots of Recovery centre also hopes to expand their works to other parts of the city.

“We have a piece of land in East Birmingham that we are in the process of developing, and we are working closely with local agencies who can refer vulnerable people into our food growing program.

To turn our vision into a reality, all we need are the funds to purchase equipment so that we can get growing as soon as possible.”

To achieve this, they have launched a crowdfunding campaign.


You can find out more about Recovery Central and Changes UK here.

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