"Becoming” an Inclusive City is a process that takes time
but even small steps are steps towards the right direction
Becoming an Inclusive City is a process that takes time and even small steps, mostly focusing on making recovery visible and celebrate it in the community by raising public awareness, are steps towards the right direction.
Today, several cities across Europe and further afield have raised their interest to become an Inclusive City.
Therefore, we have designed an Inclusive Cities Action plan, consisting of the steps that you could take in translating your city into an inclusive city for people in recovery from addiction.
Step 1 Bring together an Inclusive Cities Council
First, you bring together an Inclusive Cities council.
A core group of people who are willing to make the change happen and sign up to the goals of an inclusive city as outlined above. This group could consist of prevention and treatment workers, policy makers, city council members, members from a scientific community, but also employers, citizens, including people in recovery. There are no requirements about the specific profile nor the size of this core group, although we believe that groups containing 3 to 4 members might be more productive and more developmentally advanced than larger groups. Also, a plan for Inclusive Cities can have more chance of acceptance and implementation with positive mindset and the buy-in of key stakeholders involved in local government in order to extend civic commitment.
This core group will focus on five actions:
First of all, the core group works out the mission of its inclusive city because every city is different. This mission is mostly based on input from all relevant actors from policy, science, practice including people in recovery.
Second, based on this mission, specific local activities must be identified in order to make recovery visible, discussable and to celebrate it. It goes without saying that it is of utmost importance to include people in recovery, as well as their families, in defining these actions, leading to initiatives being better used and tailored to their needs. We advise to create a one-year schedule of recovery events and activities and to organise a minimum of two activities per year
Third, the core group organizes a kick- off session, bringing together relevant stakeholders, informing them about the Inclusive City Charter and the way the city aims to translate the Charter into practice. They also come up with a plan how to keep multiple stakeholders engaged to participate.
Fourth, the core group works out a communication plan, identifying the different audiences, messages and channels that will be used to spread the goals and activities of your Inclusive City.
Fifth, engage with the International Community of Inclusive Cities (more info will be shared soon) in order to exchange ideas and help to review and accredit other cities.
Step 2: Organise activities
Afterwards, you organise the activities.
According to the resources available in the community, several activities could be organised, ranging from the provision of mutual aid and peer support for people in recovery and educational campaigns or recovery games over establishing inter-sectoral partnerships to promote social inclusion, to carrying out activities and setting up structures to change attitudes and reduce stigma towards recovery, providing incentives for employers to employ persons in recovery and implementing anti-discrimination policy.
Remember that the overarching aims of the events are to 1) make recovery visible and 2) to celebrate recovery and bring people together. Additional aims are:
To create new connections for people in recovery
To encourage people struggling with addictions that recovery is possible
To engage the wider public and challenge stigma
To engage and involve policy makers and practitioners
To contribute to the connectedness and wellbeing of the wider community
Step 3: Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation are essential as well, in order to verify if your intended goals are met. This step is not a step that starts AFTER you have organised the activities. Rather, it is essential to set up an evaluation model and indicators for your objectives and activities from the start.
By building a learning set of cities across the world, the idea of Inclusive Cities might be implemented and tested in practice. When several cities engage with the idea of Inclusive Cities, ingredients and –hopefully- good practices to improve social justice and community engagement could be shared.
Interested in learning more about Inclusive Cities, in building one or do you have another question?
Let us know!