The team at CLI is delighted to have launched a new service in Bedfordshire to help tackle drug and alcohol misuse.

More than 50 people attended the launch event at The Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine, including partner organisations, volunteers and service users.

CLI is passionate about introducing its specialist support, advice, mentoring and advocacy service (SAMAS) for individuals, carers and families into the borough.

CLI operational director Peter Atherton said: “Our vision is to build stronger communities in Bedfordshire by delivering proactive and positive services that achieve results for clients and their families. Importantly, people with lived experiences help shape our services to make sure it is right for their individual needs.”

During the event, people heard experiences from service users and volunteers, as well as a panel discussion with other organisations, including the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway – who said how keen she was to work with CLI.

Development and training director, Matthew Kidd, added: “The world can be a lonely place when you have been labelled. But we make sure that people are treated as individuals. There is not a magical silver bullet for intervention, what there needs to be is a continuity between access to services, resources, support, jobs, housing, education and life skills.”

A CLI service user, Abe, who is in recovery, spoke at the event about working with his mentor, Jermaine.

He said: “My life had to change because I had a son, and CLI has helped him get his dad back. I can’t fault the service. They have never asked for anything from me, but I have asked many things from them.

“I now hope for a better life for me and my son. CLI has not just made my recovery easier, they have made it possible.”

Senior Assistant Commissioner Liam Pickford, spoke about why SAMAS was commissioned and what the project will achieve.

He added: “There are many misconceptions around people who are living through drug and alcohol misuse. The services that work really well and what we need are those that are designed by the people who use them. The big picture ambition is to identify people who are ready to be mentored, and build a recovery community, with organisations standing shoulder to shoulder. CLI are experts by experience and it will be great to work with them.”

For more information on Community Led Initiatives email hello@communityled.org.uk