Official launch for South Tyneside Adult Recovery Service

The South Tyneside Adult Recovery Service, which is led by Humankind in partnership with Spectrum, has been formally launched with a ribbon cutting

Councillors Nancy Maxwell and Tracey Dixon launch the new STAR service in South Shields

ceremony in South Shields.

Humankind Area Manager, Amy Cummings, said: “We were joined by numerous local partners and stakeholders who came to share, coffee, cake and ideas on how we can further develop and enhance multi-agency working in the South Tyneside area.

“We would like to thank all staff and service users for their continued hard work and support.”

South Tyneside councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said she had been impressed when she toured the service, which is based at Cookson House on River Drive, just a short walk from the town centre.

And she added: “We want to make sure our residents have access to the right support at the right time and I’m sure this highly skilled and experienced team will be able to offer exactly that.”

The service began in April this year.

Time to talk? New wellbeing group in North Yorkshire

Our North Yorkshire Horizons service has launched a Men’s Support Group in Scarborough.

The peer support group aims to provide a safe and confidential place to talk, raise self-confidence and share ideas and coping strategies.

Recovery Coordinator John Lawless set up the group to improve openness around mental health for men. He says: “Having had the personal experience of attending a male support group for my own wellbeing, I realised how much this sort of group is needed.”

“Mental health can be a taboo subject for a lot of men, so the fact that six male clients had the courage to walk through the door is amazing and has to be applauded. The feedback was great. Generally speaking, most thought it felt very comfortable for them and they felt it was easy to talk to each other, even though it was the launch of the group.”

John said many men bottle up feelings. Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged between 18 and 45.

He said: “Many men are generally expected and have been brought up to ‘just get on with it’ which has a very negative effect. This group lets our male clients know that they can talk about their issues – drug or alcohol related, or not. I believe this will have a positive impact on their substance or alcohol use.”

“You don’t have to feel suicidal or be actively self-harming to come to the group. I want to hear everyone’s stories, good or bad, and just get the male clients into the habit of dealing with their issues in a healthier way.”

The group runs on the first Monday of every month, 12noon-1.30pm at the Scarborough hub. To get in touch, click the link to the Scarborough service or call 01723 330730 – no referrals are necessary.

Four years of North Yorkshire Horizons

North Yorkshire Horizons clients, volunteers and staff have been celebrating the service’s fourth anniversary with a series of events.

North Yorkshire’s free, confidential services have engaged with over 3000 service users since 2014 and have been shortlisted multiple times for national healthcare awards – including winning at the Nursing Times Awards in 2016. The Horizons service is built on a people-centred approach to drug and alcohol support, visiting vulnerable service users in their homes and offering support across a wide rural area.

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health, said, “We’re very proud of North Yorkshire Horizons’ achievements over the past four years. Ensuring that there is an effective service that supports people to address addiction and work towards recovery is a priority for us.”

Mark Vidgen, Assistant Director of the service, said: “We are proud of what we have achieved in the four years since we began our contract. The strong partnership of organisations that make up Horizons is continually striving to provide the best possible service for the people of North Yorkshire.”

Staff at Scarborough threw a traditional birthday party and invited clients along to mark the anniversary. Colleague Niki Ruff, said: “Everyone had a great time. We had balloons, party hats and birthday banners around the hub. There was a games room open all day – service users were able to play different traditional board games, card games and party games with NYH staff. Events were also held in Selby, Northallerton and Scarborough.

Alcohol Awareness Week: time to change your drinking?

19th-25th November is national Alcohol Awareness Week

This year’s campaign focuses on alcohol and change, helping more people to seek support if they’re struggling with problem drinking and make small, manageable lifestyle changes to boost their long-term health. Across services, Spectrum is sharing key messages around:

Whether it’s a friend, colleague or service user, sharing information around safer drinking can guide people to the right support. For help and advice, download leaflets on harm prevention or take a look at the national campaign resources.

Community events

  • In Wakefield, Inspiring Recovery is joining Turning Point, CGL, and Gasped for events on 21st and 22nd November. As part of this local campaign, we are introducing Wakefield Wellcheck – a self-assessment tool to help people learn about their drinking behaviours.
  • North Yorkshire Horizons is encouraging everyone to make an #InspiredChange to their drinking behaviour. Staff will also be taking part in information events across Scarborough, Harrogate, Skipton and Northallerton – click for details.
  • York Drug & Alcohol Service is supporting Alcohol Awareness Week with targeted outreach in partnership with the City of York Council and the city hospital
  • Our teams in County Durham and South Tyneside Adult Recovery Service are supporting Alcohol Awareness Week with a campaign encouraging small changes.

To find out more, please visit our Alcohol Awareness Week web page.

Spectrum launches risk campaign for HIV Testing Week

HIV Testing Week 2018 started on Saturday 17th November, and Spectrum is teaming up with other healthcare services to offer local testing sessions and increase awareness around risky behaviours associated with HIV.


In 2017, 43% of people received a late diagnosis of HIV and an estimated 1 in 8 people with HIV are unaware that they have the virus. Late diagnosis can delay access to effective HIV treatment and lead to poorer long-term outcomes – which means that testing early is more important than ever. Factors which can increase your risk of exposure to HIV include unprotected sex, casual liaisons (without condoms/PrEP/PEP) and needle-sharing.

HIV testing will be available in 15 locations across Wakefield, Barnsley and Wigan and Leigh. A full list of testing dates can be found on the testing date calendars, and drop-in services will also be available.

Mark Rowe, Head of Service at Spectrum’s Sexual Health Services in Wakefield said: “We encourage anyone who has been exposed to risks associated with HIV to take a HIV test. Testing is quick, simple and free and can give you peace of mind if you’re worried or unsure. Early diagnosis can save lives and is crucial in supporting people with HIV to access effective treatment and live well for longer.”

Although HIV cannot be cured, people on effective HIV treatment can live a long and healthy life without passing the virus onto others. ‘Effective treatment’ describes when a person has been taking their medication as prescribed for at least 6 months. At this stage the HIV virus in their blood has been reduced to what is called ‘undetectable levels’. The Living with HIV page includes real-life stories, advice and signposts to support groups.

HIV Testing Week will run from Saturday 17th November – Saturday 24th November and you can follow our HIV Testing Week Campaign activity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @spectrumsharp. Further advice can be found on the Spectrum HIV campaign page.

There are many myths surrounding HIV and an online HIV quiz has been created for the public to test their knowledge.

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding this campaign please email



Supporting Research Readiness in Social Enterprise Health Services

This paper, authored by 6 members of the Transform Research Alliance ; Nat Wright (Clinical Research Director), Linda Harris (TRA Chair), Andrew Burnell (Trustee from City Health Care Partnership), Sue Pender (City Health Care Partnership), Pip Hearty (Spectrum CIC) and George Charlesworth (TRA Co-ordinator), was published in BMC Health Services Research in 2017.

This research explored the current climate of research in social enterprise healthcare organisations. This included a brief introduction of social enterprises, the process of research governance in healthcare research (e.g. the Health Research Authority), and proposed recommendations for the governance issues experienced in social enterprises.

The recommendations were that social enterprises work in partnership with an NHS trust to take on governance functions; smaller social enterprises form a research alliance to share expertise across organisations; or larger social enterprises, with capacity, could stand alone.

Further research would be required on this topic area to evaluate the identified models of governance, to evaluate their potential for increasing research opportunities for social enterprises.

The full, open-access paper, can be accessed here:

Drinking among young people is in ‘sharp decline’

The University of Sheffield has published a new report exploring the ‘sharp decline’ in rates of youth drinking.

Based on previously available public data, “Youth Drinking in Decline” brings together information from two recent surveys to present a picture of the downturn in alcohol use among young people. The report found a “significant decline” in drinking patterns amongst children and young people in England, mirrored across the UK.

It also revealed that:

  • Among 16-17 year-olds in England, the proportion who reported drinking fell from 88% in 2001 to 65% in 2016
  • Over the same period, the decline in drinking for 16-24 year-olds fell from 90% to 78%.
  • The proportion of 8-12 year-olds who have ever had an alcoholic drink fell from 25% in 2002 to 4% in 2016
  • Amongst 11-15 year-olds, the same figure fell from 61% in 2003 to 38% in 2016

The figures suggest more young people are becoming aware of harms caused by drinking and are choosing to abstain from alcohol.

However, policy chiefs are urging services to remember that “youth drinking has not gone away” and to continue spreading a message on harm prevention. Find out more about the report and read about the risks of under-age drinking.

Spectrum wins at the Nursing Times Workforce Awards

Spectrum was proud to win the “Best Wellbeing and Staff Engagement initiative” Award at the Nursing Times Workforce Awards on 4th October.

This award for our Workforce Wellness Programme is a fantastic endorsement of the commitment Spectrum has to Staff Health & Wellbeing, which is one of our business priorities.

The Workforce Wellness Programme offers in-depth ‘Wellness Checks’ to over 1000 staff across Spectrum and two partner organisations, Wakefield Council and Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group. Each Wellness Check gives staff greater opportunity to take control of their health and make changes, from losing weight to quitting smoking.

The Wellness Programme is open to all staff at Spectrum and our partner organisations Wakefield Council and Wakefield CCG and offers a one-to-one, hour-long consultation which helps to build a picture of a person’s health status.The in-depth Wellness assessment includes: basic body measurements, blood pressure checks, body composition, blood sample (this will be a simple finger-prick test), a lung function test and a physical test.

Our Programme was commended by Nursing Times judges, who praised the Wellness Programme for being “owned by staff” and aligning with Public Health England’s national strategy on health and wellbeing. Since beginning in November 2016, the project has supported over 700 employees across the Wakefield District to access Wellness Checks. Staff also have the opportunity to:

  • Gain a better understanding of their health and wellbeing
  • Access free advice on making lifestyle changes
  • Each member of staff receives a personalised health report

The Workforce Wellness Programme also aims to increase staff engagement with support services and create a more “open” culture around wellness, encouraging staff to take an active role in looking after their health, share their progress and motivate others.

Are you going Sober for October?

This month, Spectrum is supporting “Sober for October” – the national campaign to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support by encouraging casual drinkers to cut back on alcohol.

Giving up alcohol can have many health benefits and can contribute to better quality sleep, brighter skin and increased energy – as well as helping you to save money!

To get involved this year, you can:

Thousands of people in the UK went ‘sober for October’ last year. Some people find that the benefits from cutting down, even temporarily, can lead to long-term changes in their drinking habits in the future. Reducing your alcohol intake can also contribute to:

  • Deeper, more nourishing sleep
  • Increased energy and focus
  • Improvements in memory
  • Brighter, clearer skin
  • Weight loss

Sober for October raises funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, helping cancer patients and their families to live well for longer. To download posters and resources,  take a look at online for more information.

‘Sober for October’ is aimed at social drinkers and may not be suitable for everyone.

If you are worried about your alcohol intake, please seek advice from a GP or contact one of Spectrum’s local clinics before attempting to stop drinking.

Spectrum launches Consent campaign for Sexual Health Week

During Sexual Health Week, a national campaign led by the Family Planning Association (FPA), Spectrum Community Health is raising awareness of the important topic of ‘consent’. The campaign runs from Monday 24th September until Sunday 30th September.

Consent Crossroads’ is a local campaign by Spectrum to support people to seek consent correctly and understanding the meaning of “yes” and “no”. This includes understanding non-verbal signals that can sometimes feel like a grey area. An online campaign page has been setup to guide the public on what might constitute “Yes” and “No” responses, what to do if people feel unsure, a help page with links to other support organisations, a consent quiz (testing people’s understanding of consent) and a powerful true story ‘Sophie Said No’, which addresses some of the issues with non-consent and how it can impact people. Information and activities can be accessed on Spectrum’s website

Spectrum’s Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) team will deliver a number of lessons into schools during Sexual Health Week to classes of up to 30 young people across Wakefield, Barnsley and Wigan and Leigh.

Andi Cope, Spectrum’s RSE Programme Lead said:

“The Spectrum Relationships and Sex Education Programme contains very important content on sexual violence, sexual harassment and consent so we are delighted that Sexual Health Week 2018 focuses on our local priorities. Young people can be extremely vulnerable and so encouraging confidence and conversation around consent is the basis of building the skills needed to navigate the seeking and giving of consent.”

Spectrum is also highlighting the importance of consent for vulnerable adults and those facing domestic abuse. Spectrum’s Campaign truck will be in Barnsley on Wednesday 26th September, so members of the public to learn more about consent, as well as have private discussions with anyone who has concerns. Also at our campaigns vehicle will be Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services (bsarcs), Barnsley Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) and Targeted Youth Support teams. The online help page signposts to support groups for anyone who is at risk.

Belinda Loftus, Cluster Head of Spectrum’s Sexual Health Services said:

“We are happy to support Sexual Health Week 2018 as consent is an important part of any sexual relationship. Nobody should feel pressured into sexual activity if they are feeling unsure and Spectrum can signpost people to partner organisations if they need help. If anyone wants to test their understanding of consent, the Consent quiz is available on our website.”

You can follow our consent Crossroads Campaign activity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @spectrumsharp

More information can be found on

If you would like to get in touch with us regarding this campaign please email