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Liverpool-based supported living project grabs lockdown with both hands

Vitality Homes, a North West-based abstinence recovery project, has seen its flagship accommodation in Wavertree thrive since the UK was placed under lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Damien John Kelly House is an all male, abstinence based centre that currently houses 17 people who are committed to becoming better members of society.

Since lockdown, DJK House’s residents have come together and created a real sense of community through the creation of a new programme that allows for quarantine and social distancing, without losing any support that is necessary for the service users on their sobriety journey.

The pandemic has also seen local people and businesses supporting DJK House through donations including Luban’s Dave Critchley, Everton In The Community, High Street Mini Market, City of Liverpool FC, Tesco, Fareshare, Agile Delivery, Bruce Gorrie, Progressive Lifestyle Solutions, Peter Carney of Soccer in the City plus many more.

Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, Vitality Homes’ Head of Service, said: “It was really important that we planned for lockdown and sat together with the residents to discuss what implications could come from quarantining at DJK House. We discussed the situation in depth and created a new programme that allows social distancing and quarantine as advised, without losing any support. In fact we’ve managed to offer more support than ever before.”

To combat lockdown, DJK House created positions for all residents, assigning tasks so that each person felt they had a purpose, with roles including Creativity Co-ordinator, PT Co-ordinator, Social Activity Co-ordinator introduced.

Service users have been completing other tasks on the support programme online including Zoom groups, 1-2-1 sessions, access to online AA/NA/CA and each week, there have been two inspirational guest speakers – from all over the world including from Los Angeles – dedicating an hour of their time to share their stories.

Recovery Community Lead, PJ Smith, added: “The residents have put so much effort into making the lockdown fruitful. I shared some of the powerful and impactful things they were doing on Twitter and we had an overwhelming response of support and encouragement. What we didn’t expect was the amount of donations we got too. People have sent food deliveries, and shops and restaurants have given us their left over supplies. We’ve also had donations of trainers, clothes and toiletries from very kind people, and one person even gave us a fridge! Such generosity has been very inspiring and touching.”

Wayne, a resident at DJK House, said: “I’m now 13 months sober and myself and the other residents have used the tools of recovery to get through this time and we’ve been enjoying every minute. We have learnt to accept, trust and surrender in recovery and these qualities support us everyday in lockdown and during what is a testing time for all.”

Kate Stewart, founder of Vitality Homes, commented: “DJK House was the subject to some opposition when it first came to the area but nearly a year later it has become a beacon of community support and I’m very proud of what the residents achieve on a daily basis. I can’t thank the local community and businesses who have supported us enough.”

READ MORE: Merseyside Police thank those who have stayed at home to save lives

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