Hundreds of attendees filled the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, on May 5th, as the Jobs, Friends & Houses (JFH) team took to the stage to celebrate its first 18 months of enterprise. The event was made possible with funding from Alcohol Research UK.
The day featured talks from leading criminologist Professor David Best, Chief Superintendent Stuart Noble of Lancashire Police, Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of Arts Council England, and author Len Grant; exploring the impact JFH has made on Blackpool’s recovery community and the recovery map nationally.
Keynote speaker Prof Best presented key findings from his first year evaluation of JFH. These included:
- A 94.1% reduction of offending by JFH’s team of past prolific offenders
- A more than £800,000 saving to the public purse from reduced strains on the criminal justice, welfare and health systems
- “Being more involved in JFH [is] associated with growing social capital which provides a strong base for sustained and positive life changes.”
- A downward trend in the prevalence and frequency of alcohol use by the team [NB: not all JFH team members have had a substance misuse problem and are in recovery from addiction/alcoholism; some are ex-offenders.]
- “There is a strong negative association between the number of days of drinking alcohol and the number of days worked – for those who engage in paid work, there is a clear and strong protective effect against drinking.”
Prof Best described JFH as one of the “most exciting” recovery projects he has seen.
Among the more than 200 attendees, as well as the team, tenants and their families was Dame Julia Cleverdon, a special adviser to the Prince of Wales, and Gordon Marsden MP, Labour’s shadow skills minister. Other attendees included Public Health professionals, senior police staff and probation and prison bosses.
JFH CEO Steve Hodgkins said of the day: “The event was brilliant, another example of our amazing teamwork and ethos at JFH. We were delighted to have so many people turn out to learn more about our work and are confident audience members left feeling both inspired and humbled.”
Film maker David McCollom, of DMC Media, who is in long-term recovery from addiction, is now making a series of short films from the event