- 6 months
- 1 Year
Based in a peaceful corner of the South West, and yet just a short distance from the bustle of inner city London, this project works with men of various ages who have committed themselves to breaking free from their addictions. It is a project which captures the very essence of holistic rehabilitation combining practical work & training in the house and grounds with therapeutic groups and counselling. Working alongside a highly skilled and committed staff team you will experience first hand the challenges and joys involved in this area of support work. Staff and volunteers work together to create an atmosphere which is constructive, focussed and yet relaxed & friendly, balancing challenge and friendship carefully in order to effectively support the men on their turbulent journey.
Since the late 1970's this project has provided many hundreds of men with the support, structure and encouragement they have needed to break free from their addictions. Creating an environment which is both relaxing & yet challenging is not an easy task, but through the dedication and understanding of the staff this project has become a beacon of success for rehabilitation work in Europe.
The lives of so many people have been turned around as a direct result of their time in this project, and it is not just the clients who leave with a new sense of purpose - many volunteers who have worked here in the past have gone on to forge passionate careers in community development all around the world using the skills and inspiration they have picked up from spending time here.
The project offers drug detoxification and two consecutive programmes of rehabilitation, which provide the framework to enable men to overcome addictive behaviour and learn to live new and fulfilling lives, free of drugs and alcohol. These are followed by one year’s aftercare support. There is also a methadone and subutex detoxification programme, which runs in partnership with the local pharmacy and supervised by local GPs. During the detoxification programme, clients would begin to engage with the 1st stage programme, and would be expected to continue with this programme when detoxification is complete.
The programme includes:
- Therapy - Teaching groups on life skills, attitudes, ethics and relationships and interactive groups where residents contribute to their own and others' recovery, by becoming accountable to each other in sharing openly and honestly. In addition, each resident meets regularly with his counsellor looking at past issues behind the addiction as well as current issues and plans and strategies for the future.
- Work - All residents take part in cleaning, cooking and working on the 38-acre estate, contributing to the upkeep of their home. As they progress through the programme, they will be given specific responsibilities either in the house or grounds. For some of our residents, this will be their first experience of work - following instructions and working as part of a team. For others, their work here in areas such as catering or grounds maintenance can lead to future employment as well as life-skills.
- Recreation - Each week residents have the chance to attend a local leisure centre to take part in swimming, badminton or squash. On-site here, we have two TV lounges with Digital TV, a pool table and other games, a football pitch, outdoor swimming pool and access to a tennis court and fishing.
- Additional training opportunities - These may include help with literacy and numeracy, Health and Safety, Food Hygiene and Manual Handling.
The twin pillars of this project are love and discipline. There is a daily timetable, which is strictly followed, along with other rules, which must be observed. This helps to build self-discipline, and put good habits into place for the future. As a former Social Services Inspector noted, "Without love, work can be harsh and punishing; without compassion and humour, discipline becomes embittering; without trust and encouragement, responsibility is a burden. The team here are a like a family in many ways, working and relaxing together. They aim to mirror Christ, who 'loves us just as we are, but too much to let us stay that way'.
On completion of the initial programme, residents are strongly advised to continue onto the Resettlement Programme to prepare them for re-entry into society.
During the 18-week Resettlement Programme, residents live in one of two self-contained flats in the 8-bed Lodge, which is a separate building on the project site. Throughout this programme, residents learn to live more independently and are responsible for their own cooking, cleaning and laundry etc.
Residents receive help with finding voluntary work placements, which they attend two to three days a week in order to gain further work experience and help prepare them for permanent work once they complete the programme.
As low skills and lack of qualifications can make job hunting difficult for some residents, the residents are provided with help writing CVs and job-search skills and other work-focused training courses where appropriate. The project also offer help in areas such as relapse prevention, life skills, budgeting, relationship building, healthy eating and nutrition.
Although this is a Christian project the clients are not asked to adopt the Christian faith in order to join. All that is asked of them is that they respect the programme and the Christian foundation, and join the staff in attending a local church (for the first part of the programme).
What is Included?
- 24 / 7 Support
- Adventure Package
- Information Pack
- Accommodation:You will be living in a shared volunteer flat, however you will have your own bedroom. The apartment will include a shared living area, kitchen and bathroom.
- Food: All meals will be provided for you during your stay, however a food allowance may also be provided for you to purchase your own shopping and cook for yourself on your days off.
- Stipend: Volunteering is all about giving right?! Well, yes and no! Volunteering should be loads of fun for you too, and it’s not so easy to get out and have fun unless you have a few pennies to spend! Agapé volunteers in this project receive a stipend either on a monthly basis, which is purely for your own needs. Volunteering is about simple living, and so your stipend is calculated according to the local economy to ensure that you are not living above the standards of the local community around you.
- Training: All volunteers setting out on an adventure with us receive pre-departure training to help you prepare for the experience ahead. This training covers all the areas you need to think about before you pack your bags. It gives you time to focus and prioritise, and provides you with the knowledge and information you need in order to have a safe, fulfilling and enjoyable adventure. On arrival at your project you will also receive orientation training which will help you to better understand the local culture and support you as you find your way around this new country. On your return we will also support you as you readapt to life back home. We encourage you to keep in contact with us and consider opportunities foryou to stay connected to the work you have been part of with Agapé. In addition to all of this training you will also receive a comprehensive welcome pack full of useful information on your project, the country and the culture, as well as detailed safety and communication lists.
- Support: Agapé Adventures respects that each person is unique, and thus has different needs, and we endeavour to meet those genuine needs as effectively as we can. All volunteers are supported by Agapé every step of the way. You will be allocated a line manager to assist you in the day to day aspects of your adventure and staff at Agapé’s main base who will be available 24/7 for any out of hours emergencies. All staff involved in supporting you, work together to provide coordinated, personal and professional support throughout your adventure.
- Adventure Package: During your time in project we will coordinate an exiting adventure package for you. Where possible we try to tailor this to your interests, otherwise this will be a group event with other volunteers. A time to do something completely different and enjoy the country in which you're living in a whole new way! Here in Ireland the adventure package will be discussed with you all as a group during the first few months of your time in project.
- Airport Collection & Drop Off: When you land into the airport we will make sure that someone is there to meet you and bring you to your project base. We will also provide assistance in returning you to the airport at the end of your time to help you take back all those gifts you've picked up along the way!
What Isn't Included
What will I do?:
Your primary objective in this project is to implement the rehabilitation programme bringing wholeness to broken lives through discipline and love as a Christian volunteer.
Much of your time will be in a supervisory role in “ The Great British Outdoors” with a team of residents. Also you will be involved in middle and late day duty responsibilities as part of the 24 hour cover (not sleepovers). The work which the residents are involved in is focussed around the grounds of the project building and include general maintenance such as plumbing, plastering, painting etc, or gardening and ground development.
As a Christian volunteer you will assist the staff in the general development of the residents, you will help them to gain new skills and in so doing you play a huge part in boosting the men's self esteem and sense of worth, which for many of these men has been destroyed over the years of their abuse.
Supporting the clients is a huge aspect of the work in this project, and you can not underestimate the power of friendship and care. As you get to know these men, listen to their stories and hear about the challenges they have faced just even in getting to this place, you will come to understand how fragile life can be, and how vital it is to have a positive support network, no matter what our background.
The Local Area
Famous as one of the UK’s top ten retail destinations the heart of Reading offers much more than superb shopping (although that is a serious plus point).
For instance, The Forbury Gardens, a nationally acclaimed Victorian formal garden, is the town’s floral heart, leading you beautifully to the ruins of Reading Abbey, ancient monument and burial place of a King of England.
Wander through the ruins to the Kennet and Avon Canal, strolling past Reading Gaol and the Oscar Wilde gates. There is so much to intrigue and inspire, you’ll want to walk the canal, past the sites of Reading’s industrial past. Find yourself at Blake’s Lock, in the shadow of luxury apartments. Explore the Riverside Museum and relax on a barge moored outside a restaurant that started life as a Victorian pumping station.
If the weather is fine it's time to try messing about on the river - walk, cruise and explore the Thames, just 10 minutes walk from the town centre.