Amy Winehouse had an inarguable impact on music and culture until her untimely death in 2011. Aside from the music she left behind, there is the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up by Winehouse’s family after her death due to alcohol poisoning. Part of this amazing charity is Amy’s Place, housing set up to support women who are simultaneously recovering from drug and alcohol addiction whilst also working through traumatic histories.
Content warning: this article discusses addiction.
On the Amy Winehouse Foundation’s website page for Amy’s Place they state that “women have a far greater chance of relapsing into drug and alcohol use if they don’t have the right kind of support, which understands their situation”, which they say is often times due to the past traumas of abuse that many of the women in their care have experienced.
Amy’s Place is unique. Recovering from addiction can feel lonely and overwhelming, suddenly one of the few coping mechanisms that helped you get through the day has been pulled out from under you, Amy’s Place bridges the gap between leaving rehab treatment and living independently again.
How does the supported housing at Amy’s Place work?
As explained on the website page, Amy’s Place is made up of self-contained apartments that can house up to 16 young women at a time. As the housing is self-contained, the environment residents will find themselves in is one of “co-production”, this means staff work with residents cooperatively to tailor their experience and approach to recovery.
Women can be more or less independent, depending on the kind of care they need at that time. But, the facilities allow for them to cook for themselves, communal spaces encourage yoga, music classes and art therapy. From within the supportive community of Amy’s Place women are given the tools to study and even work.
Hannah, a manager at Amy’s Place told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, “We went around rehabs and asked women what they wanted from a recovery supported accommodation service…We want them to eventually move on to independent living and be fully equipped for that and that’s what we’re here for.”
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Amber, a resident at Amy’s Place also spoke to Radio 1 Newsbeat about how the support from staff has given her the confidence to start her own clothing business. Speaking on the communal experience of being around 15 other women all working toward recovery, Amber said:
“You’re able to build yourself up over time with the support of the women her and the staff…Often I’d come out of either prison or rehab and I’d done a lot of work on myself, but the outside hadn’t changed so it was easy to slip back into old ways. But here you’re in a community that understands you where you’re shown unconditional love and that’s just really nice.”
This model of intermediate support for people leaving some kind of rehabilitative treatment, whether that be in the community, a hospital setting or in a prison seems to be key in ensuring women who have a complex and traumatic history – one that is likely the root of their addiction – stay on their road to recovery.
Amy’s Place has been awarded ‘Best Addiction Charity’ by the Centre for Social Justice for their work in supporting and nurturing the lives of the women in their care. Their understanding that the road to recovery doesn’t end when a person has gone through rehab feels in many ways, essential in preventing the addictions experienced by those, like Amy Winehouse, from becoming fatal.
If the issues discussed in this article applies to you or someone you know, you can access NHS advice on addictions and local services here and here. Alternatively, Mind provides a list of support here.