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Kwila Rehab to host inaugural community event


When you’re recovering from addiction you are advised to “change your playground and change your playmates”.

But, how do you then find the support and connection needed to heal?

Kellie, who has her own recovery story says “We can’t recover in isolation”.

Kwila community based Rehab provides a place and space where you can feel connected, and where you can contribute whilst being surrounded by a community of supporters.  

“Lives can be, and are, changed when people are given a chance to rebuild.  

“Kwila is this place where new skills can be learnt, confidence can grow and where healing happens.”

In fact Kellie now volunteers her time at the Hexham address, sharing her love of art with others.

Kwila is a rehab service for people who have a substance use disorder or who are at risk of relapse.

Founded by addiction specialist Dr David Outridge and his wife Loraine, who is also an accredited mental health nurse, Kwila seeks to provide pathways to hope, purpose and a future.

From its home on Old Maitland Road, the not-for-profit charity offers services and activities such as welding, carpentry, arts and crafts, electronics, relaxing, gardening and fishing.

“It’s a really important place,” Kellie says.

“I’m here today because 20 years ago, when I was at my lowest, Dr David and Loraine believed in me, supported me to rebuild and brought a community of support to surround me. 

“Today that happens here at Kwila.

“When people are getting well they’re told to change their playground and change their mates, but then what you need for healing is to be connected and feel like you belong somewhere. 

“So you lose the very thing that you need. 

“To step away from that life you’re actually isolating yourself.”

Kwila offers a sense of connectedness and contribution for about a dozen people each week.

“The beauty here is that it doesn’t matter what your story is, people can just come and ‘be’, there’s a real acceptance,” Kellie says.

“Doing woodwork, bagging firewood, or even making art, you feel like you’re actually contributing, despite your addiction.

“It’s amazing what producing a piece of art can do.

“It doesn’t matter where they are on their journey, there’s no pressure to perform or to be okay to be here.

“Sometimes people just come and sit and other times they really want to get in and talk, or cook, or paint, or make things.”

Kwila is also where Peter Shoesmith, or “Shoey”, comes to feel useful.

Since finding his place at the rehab through his links with Soul Cafe, Shoey has managed to collect some very positive moments.

“I’ve had some great luck here,” he told Newcastle Weekly.

“Through [a connection] I managed to be reunited with my son and I learned I had a granddaughter.

‘This place keeps me busy, keeps my mind active, I like working with tools, and I reakon we’ve made some really great stuff.

“Just a bit of encouragement is great. It’s all you need sometimes.”

Shoey has been recycling pallets into pieces of furniture and repotting plants for sale.

Kwila manager Loraine Outridge says Shoey is one of many Kwila clients who have gained valuable skills whilst at the service.

“We’ve had some go on to get their drivers licence, learn how to drive a forklift, paint, fix things, and solve electronics.

“We’ve even had three people this year gain full-time employment.”

The facility is manned by full-time drug and alcohol worker Daran Frank.

Named after a strong wood found in Papua New Guinea, Kwila is now in its third year of operation.

On 18 April, Kwila will host its first Open Day and Markets event from 9am to 2pm.

“We’re a not-for-profit so we survive without government funding, it’s all by donation. So things we’ve been making we’re going to sell,” says Loraine.

The markets will feature furniture, artwork, planter boxes, candles, pot plants and bric-a-brac as well as bags of firewood for sale.

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