The founder of a Birmingham-based addiction recovery charity has decided to tackle the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run to raise awareness of cuts to treatment services for addiction and the homeless.
Steve Dixon, founder of Changes UK, is taking part in the annual half marathon in a bid to ensure free treatment places continue to be available and Birmingham maintains its reputation as a place to access recovery services.
The social entrepreneur will be joined on the 13.1-mile course by his wife Debbie, staff members and a number of recovery champions who say they owe their lives to the organisation’s services.
By running together, they hope to raise more than £20,000 to continue the work at its Recovery Central in Digbeth, home to Birmingham’s first and only dry bar.
Comedian, TV host and actor Russell Brand is a patron of the charity.
Mr Dixon has not been running since he was a child before starting his half marathon training plan.
He said: “Prior to Changes UK being launched ten years ago, Birmingham’s recovery community looked pretty bleak.
“Today, it is a thriving community of thousands of people who have purpose and are a valuable, responsible asset to the community.
“If the current crisis continues, scaling back our services will have devastating consequences to the local recovery community.”
Mr Dixon, who was born in Birmingham, has been recovering from his own addiction to alcohol and drugs for more than a decade.
He founded Changes UK out of his passion to bring support services to the city which were not accessible to him during his repeated attempts to stay clean and live a life with purpose.
He is hoping to use the high-profile run event to issue a rallying call for the local community and businesses to “wake up to the harsh reality of the cuts”.
Mr Dixon added: “Despite drug-related deaths and homelessness hitting record levels, we are under increasing pressure to find innovative income streams to sustain our services.
“Our vision is to be self-funded, through our social enterprises and partnership projects underpinning all our services.
“However, we need help now and I wanted to shout to the city that the current situation we are facing is at crisis point.
“Training is a huge challenge for me. There have been times when I felt it was completely beyond me….but how can I possibly give up and not do whatever it takes in my power to give another person the hope of a fulfilling life like I now enjoy?”
Article from the Birmingham Post. Read in full