At this halfway point in the project it is timely to take a step back and review our progress so far. Our project began with a review of Policy and Practice in the five partner countries. ( http://recoveu.org/index.php/e-library/category/7-wp3-policy-practicereview ). Among the key findings that emerged from the review is that there are no Access to Learning programmes designed specifically for people in recovery and few specific opportunities for them to engage with employability programmes. Although all partner countries are guided by EU policies and strategy on drugs and addiction, there are clear differences in what has been implemented and the focus for this within the individual countries, all of which are affected by a lack of consensus on addiction treatment and recovery. We would argue that a continued focus on what addiction recovery means is necessary; it is only through reaching a consensus that service providers can move forward with providing the wide range of interventions needed to support sustained recovery from the difficulties caused by addiction. It is our conclusion that access to higher education can provide opportunities for people to both re-evaluate and re-establish their lives after addiction.
A key aim of the project has been to access the views of adults in addiction recovery and service providers in order to inform the development of learning activities. In support of this a total of 92 people (service users and providers) took part in focus groups in each of the partner countries earlier this year. Although all the participants in recovery had taken part in some form of learning since leaving school (including Higher Education), many had withdrawn because of their addiction or the stigma that they felt was attached to addiction. Despite this, most participants had a high level of active interest in the topic of education, particularly those in recovery from addiction. The level of awareness of learning opportunities was poor, however, and participants felt that such opportunities were restricted. Overall, therefore, the data from the focus groups and the review strongly confirms the need for the RECOVEU project.
We are now looking forward to the next 18 months of the project! We plan to build on the work we have completed beginning with a pilot of the Exemplar Learning Activities and Evaluation Toolkit which are being created as part of the project. A conference will be held in November 2016 to mark the culmination of the project and launch the final Course Pack and E-Learning Platform. In the meantime we will continue to post our publications and results on the RECOVEU website as they become available, together with links to any other addiction/adult learning material we have found helpful.