Thursday, 29 December 2016
A message for the New Year from Living Room Cardiff In the days since his sad and untimely death, George Michael has been revealed to be not just a good, but a great man. His many acts of compassion, kindness, generosity and love, often to complete strangers were carried out anonymously. He seemed to avoid attention when he gave to others but in his passing these examples of caring and concern have become public knowledge. George Michael has died at a time when ideas of kindness, gentleness, solidarity and concern appear to be in retreat across the world; there is one other attribute he possessed which we might all do well to emulate and that is courage. In 2002, as many millions of people across the world looked on anxiously at the unstoppable march to war with Iraq, George Michael publicly spoke out against the war, knowing full well that he would be crucified by the tabloid press. He spoke out because he believed that the war was wrong and that it would end in catastrophe and history appears to have vindicated him on both counts. In the next twelve uncertain months that we will live through, we must all try to live in a spirit of compassion and courage both globally and in our everyday lives. At the Living Room Cardiff these values are central to everything that we do, compassion for the still suffering addict and courage in announcing the beliefs, ideas and values that the service encapsulates. In 2017 we will continue to research, plan and tackle the causes of compulsive gambling, we will offer comfort and support to addicts of all walks of life but also those in the clergy and the medical profession. We will focus on teaching recovery coaching to a new generation of skilled helpers to take the message of recovery and hope far and wide. We will also put a face and a name to the illness of addiction to draw it away from shame and secrecy. We will continue to challenge policy makers, brewers and retailers, casino chains, advertisers and every other branch of the addiction industry to put people before profits and to live up to the common humanity that binds us all. Uncertain times require quiet, persistent and bold action, taken in the spirit of kindness humanity and love. The great and good George Michael demonstrated this capacity for powerful positive action, combined with the utmost humility and the Living Room will do all it can to ensure these values live on. Neges i’r Flwyddyn Newydd oddi wrth Stafell Fyw Caerdydd Yn ystod y dyddiau diwethaf, ers ei farwolaeth drist ac anamserol, datgelwyd George Michael nid yn unig fel dyn da, ond fel dyn mawr. Cyflawnwyd ei dosturi, ei garedigrwydd, ei haelioni a’i gariad, yn aml i ddieithriaid, yn hollol ddienw. Roedd fel petai’n ceisio osgoi sylw pan oedd yn rhoi i eraill. Ond, oherwydd ei farwolaeth, mae’r enghreifftiau hyn o ofal a chonsyrn wedi dod i’r amlwg i’r cyhoedd. Mae George Michael wedi marw ar adeg pan mae egwyddorion caredigrwydd, tynerwch, cydsafiad a chonsyrn yn ymddangos fel petaen nhw’n diflannu. Mae yna un nodwedd arall iddo efallai y dylen ni i gyd ei hefelychu a hynny yw gwroldeb. Yn 2002, wrth i filoedd lawer ar draws y byd edrych yn bryderus ar y daith na ellid ei hatal, i ryfel gydag Irac, roedd George Michael yn siarad allan yn gyhoeddus yn erbyn y rhyfel, gan wybod yn iawn y byddai’n cael ei groeshoelio gan y wasg dabloid. Roedd yn gwneud hyn oherwydd ei fod yn credu bod y rhyfel yn hollol anghywir ac y byddai’n gorffen mewn trychineb. Mae hanes yn ymddangos fel petai wedi cael ei brofi’n gywir ar y ddau achlysur. Yn ystod y deuddeng mis ansicr nesaf y byddwn ni’n gorfod byw drwyddyn nhw, rhaid i ni i gyd geisio byw mewn ysbryd o dosturi a dewrder yn fyd-eang ac yn ein bywydau ni bob dydd. Yn Stafell Fyw Caerdydd, mae’r gwerthoedd hyn yn ganolog i bob peth rydyn ni’n ei wneud, tosturi tuag at yr adict sy’n dal i ddioddef a gwroldeb i gyhoeddi’r credoau, syniadau a’r gwerthoedd y mae’r gwasanaeth yn eu coleddu. Yn 2017, byddwn yn parhau i ymchwilio, cynllunio a delio ag achosion gamblo eithafol, byddwn yn cynnig cysur a chefnogaeth i adictiaid ym mhob maes bywyd ond hefyd i’r rhai o fewn yr eglwysi a’r proffesiwn meddygol. Byddwn yn canolbwyntio ar ddysgu hyfforddiant adfer i genhedlaeth newydd o gynorthwywyr cymwys i fynd â’r neges o adferiad a gobaith ar draws bob man. Byddwn hefyd yn rhoi wyneb ac enw i’r salwch o ddibyniaeth i sicrhau ei fod yn ddigywilydd a heb fod yn gudd. Byddwn yn parhau i herio gwneuthurwyr polisïau, bragwyr a mân werthwyr, cadwyni casino, hysbysebwyr a phob maes arall o’r diwydiant dibyniaeth i roi pobl cyn elw ac i ddilyn egwyddorion dynoliaeth gyffredin sy’n ein clymu ni oll. Mae amseroedd ansicr yn gofyn am weithredu tawel, cyson a dewr, gan ystyried yr ysbryd o garedigrwydd, dynoliaeth a chariad. Roedd y George Michael mawr a da’n dangos y gallu hwn i gymryd camau positif pwerus, ynghyd â’r gostyngeiddrwydd eithaf a bydd y Stafell Fyw’n gwneud popeth o fewn ei gallu i sicrhau bod y gwerthoedd hyn yn parhau.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
In 1999, in a three square mile area of a major conurbation, armed violence fuelled by drug gang rivalries reached its peak. During that single year there were 270 firearms discharges, 43 gun-related injuries and 7 fatalities. Caught in the middle of this savagery, law enforcement services struggled to cope. On one occasion the local police headquarters was strafed by automatic gun fire, taking out the windows while the station commander sat at his desk. The city in question was not Chicago or Bogota, but Manchester – and the police commander in question was me. For those asked to deter and investigate the drug gangs of Manchester it was an extraordinary time, but strangely rarely a fearful one. When I patrolled the streets of Longsight, or led a firearms operation, it was exhilaration rather than apprehension that captured the emotions (but then I was a much younger man!). The estates of Manchester are a little quieter these days, thanks to programmes of civic regeneration and gang intervention, but there and throughout the world the war on drugs continues. Year by year the number of addicts grows, the complexity of the market develops, and the rewards associated with the trade grow ever more absurd (currently estimated at two trillion dollars per annum). Nations such as Mexico and Afghanistan are utterly undermined by the traders and the obscene violence they foster. The North Wales Police Commissioner’s recent call for a discussion on the legalisation of drugs follows many similar suggestions over the past couple of decades. Some ten years ago the North Wales Police Authority and Chief Constable came to a similar conclusion. In Colombia, a country which has suffered four decades of civil war fuelled by drug money, President Juan Manuel Santos has called for a global re-think on our approach. However, attitudes remain as polarised as ever. Across the other side of the globe, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines sanctions vigilante hit squads to eradicate the estimated three million addicts in the country. Following recent statements on drug policy from various quarters I have regularly been approached in the past few weeks for media statement on the local and national picture. I have declined to comment. In fact, this is a debate I have stayed out of for some time; not because I haven’t got any opinions but because expressing them is pointless. In Britain and in the nations capable of making a global difference there is no political appetite, at the level where decisions can be made, for a rational and evidence-based discussion. Critics, many of the highest academic credentials, are labelled feeble. Advisers are firmly put back in their box. The focus remains on creating law and then trying to enforce it. Meanwhile, the misery continues for hundreds of thousands of individuals across the UK: university towns are awash with MDMA, the streets are again flooded with heroin and our prisons are drowning in Spice. As it was for the police in South Manchester, the front line in the war against drugs can be an exciting place. The enemy is clear, the rules of engagement are rehearsed and with the chase comes the thrill. There is also the absolute certainty that by following this approach you will never be out of a job. So, at least for the time being I will refrain from entering the debate. Through CAIS I will continue the work of helping victims recover from the scourge of addiction and supporting them to lead more prosperous lives. At this season of goodwill, which for so many reasons seems misplaced in 2016, I hope that decision-makers can one day reflect that conversation costs nothing and that you don’t solve every problem by fighting a war. Merry Christmas. Clive Wolfendale CEO CAIS Ltd.