Wendy Dawson, Ley Community, 25th January 2011

Wendy Dawson gave a fascinating talk about her work at the Ley Community in Yarnton, near Woodstock, where she has been the Chief Executive for 2 ½ years. The Ley Community is an independent registered charity, established in 1971 and that helps people with drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

The Ley Community was set up by Dr Bertrand Mandelbrote and Dr Peter Agulnik. At the time addiction was seen as a mental health issue, but Dr Mandelbrote said that mental illness was caused by addiction. The Ley Community was based on the social model of intervention, that Dr Mandelbrote had seen used in the USA.

There are 58 residents at the Community in Yarnton. The “community as method” is the facilitator of change, and this is critically important to people’s recovery. The 12 month abstinence programme is in two phases: phase one runs for nine months, then residents start voluntary work outside the community. There is a range of voluntary opportunities with local organisations. At the end of the programme, residents leave and move into employment and independent living. Ongoing support is available and past residents are invited to evening meetings.

The average age of residents is 27. Often residents come from family units that have drug or alcohol addiction. The structure in each day helps to break the cycle of abuse. The Community has a 60% success rate of completion and an 87% success rate post discharge (9 months later).

Wendy explained that the previous government processed addiction within the criminal justice system and so 3-6 month programmes were more popular. However the current government is moving away from “in treatment” to “in recovery” and the move from targets to outcomes fits better with the Ley Community values.

Read more on the very informative Ley Community website