• ‘Imagine having a comms person to help with this stuff’

    Alongside building the recovery community, one of our main aims is to raise

    awareness, and challenge stigma and discrimination. We want to do this by
    making recovery visible, sharing stories and contributing to public and
    professional awareness. To do this we need to enhance our voice and reach.
    We’re blessed with so many people who are willing to share their stories. We
    have a strong message based on our strong beliefs that recovery is possible for
    all, that we can support all pathways to recovery and that recovery means
    different things to different people. We believe we can contribute to the national
    conversation about substance misuse problems, it’s impact and the ways out of
    We want to reach our members frequently and in a way that is meaningful to
    them. We love the individual relationships we have via our group and 1:1
    sessions, as well as the thriving ‘buzz’ people get from meeting each other when
    our centres are open. We also know we need to communicate with our members
    and volunteers in coordinated ways – informing, connecting, engaging and
    sharing. We did as well as we could and we did a lot for a small team – but we
    always knew we could do more and better.
    Fast forward to Covid. This need to communicate collectively ramps up. The
    centres close. People are worried – about Covid; their recovery; about loneliness,
    being isolated and losing their routine; about what will happen to the ‘RC
    We respond. All our activities go online. We know we need to increase our online
    and individual communications. So, in true RC spirit, we do it. Our social media
    posts increase, we reach out by phone and text, we send out the message
    strongly that we’re still here, we’re in it together, RC support will continue 7 days
    per week.
    Two people, rushed, learning on the job, juggling a tweet here, a text here, an
    email there. Did we do well? Yes! Did it feel enough? No! Did it feel sustainable?
    Serendipity? We see an ad from the Charity PR Initiative for help with PR and
    comms. We apply and get matched with two wonderful communication experts,
    Becca Ireland and Sonya Cullington. I’ll spare you the ins and outs but what a
    quick learning curve, what a lot of work, what a transformation! A comms
    strategy, branding, techniques and understanding.
    Very early on they said, ‘you really need to bring someone in to help with this
    when we’re gone at the end of August’. Me, ‘oh yeah, nice idea, maybe one day,
    I’m sure you’re right… but we’re only a small charity, we don’t do ‘PR and
    comms’, all our money goes to direct delivery or the infrastructure to make that
    happen’. Smiles and mumbling, smiles and mumbling.
    Them: smiles and ‘hmm, you really need to bring someone in to help with this
    when we’re gone.’

    Today: they were right. We really need to bring someone in to help with this!
    Communication, connection and engagement doesn’t happen by accident. Good
    and sustainable communication, connection and engagement doesn’t happen as
    well as it can with two people doing it while juggling a full workload, meetings,
    deadlines, rushing out messaging while doing chores, childcare, making the tea,
    on the loo (sorry for oversharing!), over breakfast, last thing at night.
    Good communication, connection and engagement is essential to connect to and
    look after our team, our members and volunteers; to engage and update our
    funders; to get the RC message out there so more people can access support
    when needed; and to address our aim to raise awareness while challenging
    stigma and discrimination.
    Today, I’m delighted to announce our new social media and comms officer for RC
    Rebecca Cashman. She will be starting with us next week and you will
    learn more about her then. What makes this more special is that this 12-month
    self-funded Covid response post has been made possible by YOUR fundraising.
    Thank you RC Family.
    We can’t wait to share our stories, updates and messages with you all – more,
    better – and not written on the loo!
    Sonya and Becca – we listened 😉
    So, we’re too small for Comms?
    No! Because we’re small, we need Comms! Now more than ever as we connect
    at a distance…
    Sarah Vaile Nov 2020