University helping former addicts to scale new heights on their journey to recovery
Conquering an addiction to drugs and alcohol can be an uphill battle but for an intrepid group of service users from health and wellbeing charity ARCH, scaling Snowdon was just one more pinnacle of achievement on their journey to recovery.
Led by former Royal Marine Neil Davies, founder of outward bound organisation Active Adventure North Wales, two groups of Wrexham and Shotton service users braved Wales’ highest mountain in wintery conditions this week (Wednesday).
They followed the Llanberis path, a nine mile walk to the summit and a climb of 3,300 feet in a bid to enhance their overall physical and mental health and boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Their ascent was all part of an innovative health and wellbeing partnership between ARCH, Active Adventure North Wales and Wrexham Glyndwr University, which is supporting the scheme through People and Places Lottery funding.
The initiative is based on evidence that shows long term improvements in health and wellbeing do help people to sustain their recovery from drug and alcohol problems and transform their lives. The scheme comprises a series of day long outward bound activities tailor made for ARCH’s clients across the six counties of North Wales and interspersed with the charity’s 12 week health and wellbeing programme, which is based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, The scheme will culminate in a two day residential outward bound course later this year.
The first outing for ARCH’s ‘outward-bounders’ came last December and saw service users fighting icy winds and driving rain to cycle the coastal path from the Marine Lake at Rhyl as well as learning how to build a raft.
ARCH Health and Wellbeing Facilitator Ramsey Morsy, who was instrumental in setting up the unique partnership with Active Adventure North Wales and Wrexham Glyndwr University, said: “As challenges go scaling Snowdon is up there with the best of them, particularly for those who are not used to such strenuous exercise, so I am extremely proud of all our service users who braved the challenge.”
Ramsey, who joined service users on both climbs while confessing he was no great fan of heights, added: “I often talk about the journey to recovery in terms of base camp, ascent and summit so I thought, why not climb an actual mountain which will give service users a sense of achievement like no other. It is a real transformative experience, which is what ARCH is all about.”
Said Neil Davies, a Royal Marine for eight years and long-time member of the Institute for Outdoor Learning: “It was an outstanding effort from both teams who pushed ahead despite adverse conditions. Everyone had an opportunity to navigate and they showed resilience as they battled 50mph head winds.”
Lucy Jones, Work Experience Officer at Wrexham Glyndwr University, commented: “Co-producing community based projects is a great way to empower and encourage people. Wrexham Glyndwr University are proud to be working in partnership with ARCH and Active Adventure whilst supporting both service users and students to gain the skills that they need to achieve their goals”.
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