Backstory of the BAC-IN service
How it began
BAC-IN is a grassroots organisation born out of lived experience and voices of the under-served and seldom engaged vulnerable people from BAME communities . The two founders of BAC-IN met at Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings during the late 1990’s, both of them were recovering from addiction. They described themselves as - "two brothers in recovery in a room full of Caucasian people, “we had cultural identification, we had that empathic understanding" which was absent in others in the group.
They established a self-help group, rooted in core principles of cultural identification and cultural empathy which met weekly at the Friends Meeting House in Nottingham. Sohan Sahota, Gladstone Hibbert and Manjit Singh Johal as founding members facilitated & organised the culturally responsive support group.
They drew on their contacts and produced leaflets to raise awareness of the group - personally knowing that many BAME people in active addiction in Radford, St Ann’s, Meadows (in Nottingham), and Normanton (in Derby) were "still out there struggling, not knowing anything about recovery, not knowing that there's a way out".
Making a difference
They made a ‘pledge’ to reach every suffering addict in the community to find the ‘gift of recovery’ and a prosperous life through abstinence. As a result, when the self-help group began in October 2003 there was substantial demand for support. In the early day's 8-12 people (predominantly male) attended the group, but this grew to more than forty members participating in a group at one stage as word spread.
A broad range of people from different ethnicities accessed the group, including, Black British, Pakistani, Indian, Irish, Bangladeshi, Iraqi, Iranian, Dual Heritage and African-Caribbean over the years. All members had commonalities in terms of their lived experience of addiction and the desperation to improve their lives, not knowing how and where they could do this.
Despite mainstream services being available for addicts, the uptake of services was low amongst BAME people due to their perceptions of such services as being clinical, uncaring and there being a "big distance [culturally] between the workers and the client". A lack of trust due to experiences of discrimination and fear about being reported to the authorities due to service providers' gaps in cultural knowledge also prevented engagement with mainstream services.
Culturally Responsive Model
The need to form BAC-IN was driven in response to an ‘unmet need’, under-representation and gap within commissioned mainstream drug and alcohol support services in Nottingham. BAC-IN recovery support group became distinctive and one of a kind. Over the years people attended from across the East Midlands and further afield in search of recovery.
The group offers a unique, culturally responsive environment where service users can connect, be a part of and share their experiences as they relate to their culture, ethnicity, beliefs, values and spirituality within an ambience that mirrors their cultural heritage, lived experience and backgrounds.
To the present day, BAC-IN continues to provide a culturally empathic, peer led forum that acknowledges diversity, values difference and embraces a choice of psycho-social, cultural, faith-based and spiritual perspectives to recovery, rehabilitation and well-being.
Barriers to Access and Engagement
BAME communities are underrepresented in treatment and support services. There are many reported barriers to accessing and engaging with mainstream services, in brief are related to:
• Shame, stigma and discrimination
• Lack of culturally appropriate support
• Lack of choice
• Lack of consideration given to faith and spirituality
based recovery options
• Lack of recovery programs tailoring to cultural
specificity, beliefs, and values
• Language barriers
• People attempting to handle problems
themselves, shame of asking for help and mistrust
of services (i.e. breaches of confidentiality, fear of
misdiagnosis, past experiences of racism)
BAC-IN recognises that there is a need for BAME people seeking recovery to have a service that meet there needs and confidently responds to their complex issues.
Culturally appropriate Support and Choice
BAC-IN's alternative model;
• Offer's Peer led solutions/alternative options
• Provide's a Peer led whole service built on
lived experience, recovery and cultural expertise
• Offer's choice of cultural, faith-based and spiritual
perspectives to addiction recovery and rehabilitation
• Support's individuals with their concerns and
experiences as they relate to their culture, faith,
ethnicity, beliefs and values
• Provide's Bi-lingual support to address some of the
• Support's individuals to reconnect with their faith or
• Offer's specialist counselling for issues related to
shame, stigma and past experiences of racism
BAC-IN during the past 16 years have had a positive impact on many lives and played a special and distinct role in specialist service provision in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire and Nationwide.
BAC-IN has experienced periods of expansion and contraction over time, including significant grant funded successful projects and partnership with statutory-funded consortia.
BAC-IN over years has established a unique profile and forged strong links within BAME communities and continues to raise awareness, challenge stigma and shame associated with substance misuse and through community outreach, local radio, TV networks, newspapers and community magazines.
In 2021 awarded ‘Best Specialist Drug & Alcohol Recovery Support Service – UK’ Article pages 8-9 - Available to view on our website here
In 2017 awarded Dr Michael Varnam award in recognition of our valuable contributions to Nottingham.
In 2015 awarded Nottinghamshire police & crime commissioner award in recognition of improving the quality of life in Nottingham communities.
In 2012 awarded the Self help Champion Star award by Nottingham Self Help.
In 2008 BAC-IN team were the regional winners of the Home Office 'Tackling Drugs, Changing Lives' award. This was in recognition of its unique and innovative work with BME service users, families and hard to reach communities.
In 2006 BAC-IN was awarded the ‘Justice Award’ from Central Lancashire Justice Board for its contributions into community engagement programmes. BAC-IN successfully carried community led research focussing on a gap analysis of treatment services for Black and Minority Ethnic substance misusers within the criminal justice system. (Commissioned by the DAAT and supported by University of Central Lancashire and Home Office).