Social Vision is supporting the Institute for Social Justice at York St John University to place academic researchers into local social impact organisations – supporting the sector to understand its work, grow its services and attract more resources. Having a researcher in your organisation can be a daunting process, so we caught up with Mark Green at York in Recovery – one of six organisations chosen in 2022 to receive this support from York St John.
What is York in Recovery?
As members of CLERO York in Recovery is a peer support group for anybody in recovery or seeking to understand what recovery could be for them. This started off in 2012 around substance misuse, but has since evolved to become an important grassroots peer support group in York, supporting anybody in need, including Mental Health, Housing etc. It is a much-needed player in York’s social impact sector, and offers people a relaxed, supportive and non-judgemental space in which to share their own recovery journey with others on similar paths. York in Recovery is a micro-organisation, with a small paid staff, a team of 6 ‘leaders’, and a trustee board. They are very much a user-led organisation, with all of the leadership having lived experience of recovery.
So Mark, why did you take up this opportunity?
We saw this opportunity through the Social Vision network, and thought it was too good an opportunity to ignore. We wanted to understand where we’d come from, where we are now, and what the future looks like. At the end we’re hoping to have some kind of a report that will help us to understand, sustain and grow what we do – meaning we can support even more people in York. We really are just scratching the surface of demand, which has almost doubled in recent years.
And what are St John’s doing?
York St John appointed a researcher, Ruth Lambley (https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/our-staff/staff-profiles/ruth-lambley.php). The aim of Ruth’s research is to understand the perceptions and experiences of those who attend meetings and to gain a clearer understanding of the role it plays in the wider recovery community. We got to sit on the interview panel for Ruth, so we got to meet her before she was appointed. This is really important so we know she’s a good fit for our community. She now attends our regular meetings, and speaks to people there. She’s fit in really well, and everybody present engages with her.
As a small organisation, it can be hard to find the time to apply for these opportunities. So how was the process?
It was actually really easy. Matthew (Reason) and his team at theInstitute for Social Justice at York St John University made us feel valued, and were really down to earth. We didn’t need all the academic lingo – they took care of that for us. We just needed a rough idea of what we wanted to do, then they went away and designed the project for us. After that we just needed to give them access to our community. It was all really easy and straightforward.
What would you change?
It would have been good to have somebody like Social Vision with us at the interview stage, as it was a little bit intimidating, to be honest. Also the time between hearing we’d got the opportunity and actually starting the project was quite a long time, which left us in a bit of limbo. But honestly, it was just really easy and straightforward.
And finally, what’s your message for anyone considering applying this year?
For any groups who are thinking of applying, I would say have no fear, and be confident in the similarities you share with interested academics. It has been inspiring through our current collaboration to explore the shared care, vision and drive for positive impact we all hold, even though we come from different professional backgrounds.
If you’d like a researcher in your organisation, applications are currently open for the 2023 cohort. We have two Briefing Events and a very straightforward application process. Find out more here