Addiction kicked into touch

HOME SIDE: The Hartlepool five-a-side team that took part in the event. Back row (left to right), Kerry Charlton, Kelly Stokes, Abbey Booth and Simon O'Dwyer. Front row (left to right), Emma Robinson, Ant Whalley, Farley Normanton and Simon Hindshaw. Inset, action from the event

HOME SIDE: The Hartlepool five-a-side team that took part in the event. Back row (left to right), Kerry Charlton, Kelly Stokes, Abbey Booth and Simon O'Dwyer. Front row (left to right), Emma Robinson, Ant Whalley, Farley Normanton and Simon Hindshaw. Inset, action from the event

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RECOVERING drug and alcohol addicts took part in a pioneering event yesterday to prove that substance misuse can be kicked into touch.

A football tournament took place in Hartlepool, with around 60 people from the Tees Valley and Durham area who have beaten, or are recovering from, substance misuse taking part in five-a-side football matches at the Grayfields Recreation Ground.

The tournament was followed by a regional conference to share ideas on recovering from addiction in the neighbouring Grayfields Pavilion in the afternoon.

Called the Hartlepool, Durham and Tees Valley Recovery Football Tournament and Conference, the event was organised by community interest company AZ-1.

AZ-1 is commissioned by Safer Hartlepool Partnership – a group of agencies working to make the town a safer place – to provide a range of advice and social support to help people recover from substance abuse and build new lives.

The event was backed by Hartlepool drugs, alcohol and mental health agencies, the support group Steps4ward and football charity Street League.

Guest speakers at the afternoon conference included John Liddell, deputy regional manager of the National Treatment Agency, Terry Doyle, chair of the Regional Service User Forum, and adventurer and motivational speaker Pauline Sanderson.

George Charlton, Director of AZ-1, has himself beaten drug and alcohol problems.

He said: “The aim the event was to show that recovery is something which is realistic and achievable for everyone who is in drug or alcohol treatment.

“Very often people caught up in substance misuse need other people to believe in them before they can start to believe in themselves.

“In the work we do, we put the person first rather than the problem, and as a result we find the problem invariably sorts itself out.”