Wynford Ellis Owen's Story

Author: Wynford Owen
Wynford Ellis Owen's Story

Wynford had recently been appointed Chief Executive of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs when he was awarded his Fellowship.

The cornerstone of his three-year strategy was the setting up of Living Room Cardiff, a community-based recovery centre for Cardiff and South Wales.

On his “unforgettable, life-changing” journey, he visited recovery centres in Connecticut, Vermont, Philadelphia and Virginia in the US, gaining ideas on how to better build a strong peer culture into the Cardiff service. The result was the development of a Peer-Based Recovery Support Service, encompassing support at individual, family, neighbourhood, and community levels to achieve long-term recovery from alcohol and/or other drug-related problems or harmful behaviours.

Living Room Cardiff opened on the 8th September 2011 with four regular attendees. Today it has over 500 people in recovery on the books, with 85% of those who regularly attend group psychotherapy and one-to-one counselling sessions abstinent from their addictions or harmful behaviours.

Provision has expanded to include on-going support to ministers of religion and their families through the Cynnal Churches' Counselling Service for Wales; a pilot programme treating qualified doctors and medical students with addiction problems through a partnership with the Medics Support services at the University Hospital of Wales; and regular training courses for Recovery Coaches. This year sees the launch of a study module at the University of Wales Trinity St David, based on the centre’s Recovery Coach Manual, and of a pilot initiative, Beat the Odds, in conjunction with their strategic partners, The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in Melbourne, Australia, to help excessive gamblers in Wales.

 “And the Churchill Fellowship and the people I met still inspire me. In fact the Fellowship changed my life, because when I returned I had developed the capacity to show love and compassion. Without those qualities the Living Room wouldn't be where it is today.”