There’s a Place for Me: James Deakin

Last week, I posted the Recovery Voices Teaser I edited for James Deakin, Founder of North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) which is located in Bangor, North Wales. This film quickly became the most viewed Recovery Voices film clip. The Teaser was created from an interview that James had with his good friend Wulf Livingston, who is my co-founder of the Recovery Voices initiative.

I was really excited to recently interview James, as part of a follow-up series to Wulf’s interview. I have now edited eight films from that first Zoom interview, summaries and links of which you can find here.

I decided to show this particular clip first, in which James describes how he was incredibly intimidated by academics initially. However, he later learnt that there was no need to be intimidated—he could play an important role in the addiction recovery field. And so he has! Mark Gilman played an important role here. How many times have I heard this of Mark? He has inspired many!

James points out that he used to be incredibly intimidated by academics at one point. He felt out of place mixing with academics at recovery-related events, but later realised that he had something to contribute. He heard academics talking about recovery-related matters in a theoretical way, but he could see how to apply these theories in the real world and make positive things happen.

James still struggles with precisely how recovering people go from being a negative influence in society to being a recovery carrier. They have disproportionate effects on their social circle, but it goes from a negative to a positive impact as the person recovers from addiction. What sort of psychological process takes place for this transformation to occur? James knows how to facilitate such changes in people, but not what underlies them psychologically. However, knowing that he was able to help people change made him realise that ‘there is a place for me at this table.’

James goes on to talk about how he identified with, and was inspired by, Mark Gilman—‘he had them all eating out of his hand’ during his presentation. Seeing Mark at this presentation made him realise that, ’I can contribute something meaningful.’ This was really important to James—he needed to know that he could make things happen, rather than just be a ‘passenger’ in the field.

James Deakin has been in recovery for 15 years and is now sharing his experiences of active addiction and offending to support other people to bring a positive change to their own lives. He believes strongly in the concepts of mutual aid and shared experience, and these are underlying foundations of North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC), which he developed in 2014. NWRC delivers a programme of meetings and recovery activity from Penrhyn House and members of NWRC contribute significantly to the local community in various ways. Their community cafe, Bwyd Da Bangor, provides the best food on High Street, Bangor.