The lunches are served at the “recovery cafe,” which houses a memorial book with the names of those lost to addiction, including the woman’s husband.
Elaine Bradley, a 61-year-old English woman in recovery, chooses to help others walking the same path—but not through traditional means.
Instead, Bradley serves up chicken.
According to The Guardian, Bradley lost her husband to alcohol use disorder 11 years ago and battled it herself before getting sober six years ago.
She now volunteers at a local recovery center, where she runs a Thursday chicken lunch club which provides a space for those in recovery or who are seeking recovery to discuss what they are experiencing. She also heads up the peer-mentoring group meetings.
“You’ve got to talk to each other,” Bradley tells the Guardian. “They all sit and chat about this, that and the other and they open up a bit more.”
The Recovery Cafe
The space where Bradley serves her well-loved chicken is referred to as the “recovery cafe.” It houses a memorial book with the names of those lost to substance use disorder, including Bradley’s husband.
For Bradley, the space is a homey one. “It’s a nice feel when you walk in here, although it’s blooming hot,” Bradley said. “You know everyone by first names and they all know us. They know that they can trust us.”
The need for such services in Essex is greater now than ever, as there were recently six fatalities in three days due to suspected drug use. Additionally, Public Health England statistics indicate that the area sees higher-than-average death rates from illicit substances.
“It’s sad, but what can you do? The help is here if they want it,” Bradley said.
Dr. Ahmad Muhamed, an addiction psychiatry specialist, tells the Guardian that he treats patients struggling with a variety of substances. Often, he says, they’re prescribed medications like methadone to help them taper off the drugs.
“It varies from one patient to another because you have to take into account a lot of factors: their physical health, their mental health, their socioeconomic status,” he said. “Even if they have been on it for years, the end goal is for them to come off it.”
According to Bradley, the area could benefit from spaces like the recovery cafe.
“To be honest, I think Southend needs a lot more of these places because the work we do here, I think, is amazing,” she said.