An interview with Nina Farquharson and Cathy Holmes from ‘Hidden Voices’, conducted by Johna Johnson and Dominic Maddocks for Recovery Radio. Nina Farquharson is a Life Coach and Cathy Holmes runs the organisation’s Smart Recovery programme.
“It’s got a really positive vibe.”
So what service do you provide?
Cathy Holmes: I offer the Smart Recovery, which consists of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tools adapted for addicts. It’s all very informal; it’s a drop in discussion group so people can come for as long as they need to. We’ve also got the Cook and Eat, which is run by Anita who’s great at getting everybody involved. Everyone cooks together and then we all sit and eat together. It’s got a really positive vibe.
Nina Farquharson: Then Anita also runs the Creative Hub, which allows people to express themselves in an informal atmosphere. I run the Life Coaching, which helps with positivity and is all about personal discovery.
CH: There’s also the Hidden Voices magazine, which was the first thing Gary, our founder, established.
How long have you been going?
CH: In January it’s going to be four years since the project started, though it was originally called the ‘Hidden Homeless’. It’s only changed to ‘Hidden Voices’ in the last four months.
How did you get involved with Hidden Voices?
NF: I was doing some voluntary coaching work and I approached him after he set up the Hidden Voices Magazine. Then together with a lady called Catherine Packer-Littler we put a bid together and received five years of funding from the National Lottery, so we currently have one year of funding left from them.
“We bring together people who might otherwise be isolated.”
What are the aims of Hidden Voices?
CH: I think we bring together people who might otherwise be isolated. It gives people with addiction issues and mental health issues a way to get out and mix with other people who won’t judge them.
NF: Yes, we’re building little communities of people who can look after each other.
CH: Our main objective is to help anybody who needs positivity, who’s in recovery, who wants to turn their life around and become more empowered and positive.
What are your links with other services? Do you sometimes refer on?
CH: Obviously we do work with a lot of partners in Bradford.
NF: A lot of people self-refer after experiencing the project because of what we stand for.
CH: There’s a great quote – “community builds immunity” and I’d say that’s something we’re pioneers of. People often come back and encourage and support others.
“Community builds immunity.”
What makes Hidden Voices work?
NF: We’ve all had our own life experiences, none of us have been to university and learnt this stuff, we’ve learnt it all from life experience.
CH: I started out with Hidden Voices as a client, first doing the Smart Recovery and then the Life Coaching – which I did seven times because it’s just so inspirational. You watch people get better and see them flourish. And now that I’ve ended up as staff I get to provide a little bit of that for other people, which is awesome.
NF: I think what really comes through is the love we have for the people we work with on a daily basis. Some of their courage and the adversity they’ve had to overcome is so inspiring, and we hope to see much more of that in the future.
“You watch people get better and see them flourish.”
Click here if you would like to read more about the work offered by Hidden Voices and find out how to get involved.