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Giant steps on the road to Recovery
Friday 8th March, 2013

Giant steps on the road to Recovery
Performers from Fallen Angels in Action

A PIONEERING Wigan project is helping people to overcome the despair of addiction, through the power of dance.

A partnership between WLCT (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust), drugs and alcohol rehabilitation programme THOMAS and North West-based dance company Fallen Angels is helping to transform the lives of people battling to overcome addiction.

And now, the dance company behind the project will get the chance to showcase the great work on a national stage.

On Tuesday March 12 Fallen Angels will take centre-stage at the Recovery Festival, which will be held at the QEII Conference Centre.

Dancers will perform in front of an invited audience, including Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Vicky Fletcher, who is Arts Development Officer with WLCT is helping to co-ordinate the Wigan Project, says: “In Wigan we are continuing to develop a 12-week course which allows people who are overcoming drug and alcohol addictions to express their feelings and come to terms with their emotions using a combination of dance and speech to create a powerful performance.

“This creative recovery programme is helping people to take control of their own lives and in the fullness of time regain their independence and ultimately explore opportunities for employment or voluntary work.”

The Recovery Festival has been organised as part of a government initiative to promote greater understanding about the recovery process to a range of audiences, including the business community.

Its ultimate aim is to forge links between business and those agencies working in the recovery field to foster greater understanding and encourage co-operation.

Paul Bayes Kitcher Fallen Angels Director says: “It's a fantastic opportunity to showcase the successes we have had in front of an extremely influential audience.

“It's a celebration of talent and will send the message that people who have battled drug and alcohol addiction and are now in recovery have both talent and ambition.”

Since THOMAS began their programme in Wigan last May, it has enjoyed some remarkably positive results.

These have included 12 people being referred to the Pathways to Education, Training and Employment service, seven taking advantage of volunteering and mentoring opportunities and two working towards nationally recognised qualifications in Health and Social Care.

Wayne McGarrigan, who is a Recovery Development Worker for THOMAS, is convinced of the project's benefits of the dance theatre workshops.

“It really is transforming lives,” he says. “When we first introduced dance theatre to it, the people we work with were naturally apprehensive, if not downright sceptical about its value. These are people who have often lost all confidence and self-esteem, can be socially isolated and often quite anxious and withdrawn as a result.

“You could almost hear the groans when we told them we were going to do a dance workshop but as soon as we got into it, they really took to it.”

As well as the Recovery Festival, the hope is that people involved in the project will also stage a special performance in Wigan for an audience that includes representatives from organisations providing recovery services. The aim will be to express views about their experiences of the process in a bid to help improve it.

Wayne adds: “It has been like light coming on for some of the people involved, they have found motivation and energy that previously they would never have believed they had.

“Many of them are now looking beyond the recovery process to a fresh start and a much brighter future.”

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