Belfast Telegraph

Co Down pub transformed into Recovery Cafe for alcoholics

Gary Grattan

A former Co Down pub has been transformed into a café helping recovering alcoholics to stay sober and turn their lives around.

The Recovery Café in Dromore is the latest project by The Right Key, a social enterprise that helps recovering addicts by teaching them to write and perform music and poetry.

Sheila Smyth, director of The Right Key, speaking at the café’s official launch said: “The Recovery Cafe is all about allowing people space to heal, in a safe environment.  A breaking point can become a turning point if there is a safe place to heal, and the right support. It is not just for recovering alcoholics, but for anyone who is in a recovery process from life's hurts.”

Two years ago Sheila founded ‘Voice of Recovery’ a choir made up of recovering addicts, who were undergoing rehab. Members of choir told Sheila that they wanted to continue singing when they left treatment, so she came up with the idea of creating a social space where they could continue to meet, perform and help each other.

This led to the creation of The Recovery Café, which aims to give people the opportunity to rebuild their lives outside of the pub environment and the pressures of alcohol.  The building has largely been refurbished by the group using recycled materials.

During today’s launch, the ‘Voice of Recovery’ choir performed a selection of songs and poems to celebrate the opening of this safe space in which to continue their rehabilitation.

Sheila added: “We have developed a clothes and food bank, and largely refurbished the building ourselves, without any assistance or funding.  We did this largely through recycling, and fixing things that other people would throw away. We made it a project, for those who were in early stage recovery, to keep them busy and to keep their minds active.” 

The group has also built a garden at the site which will be a Garden of Remembrance for all those who have died through addiction.  They will plant a tree or a rose for each one to keep their names alive. 

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