ROWE'S FARMHOUSE, CHURCH ROAD, SWALLOWFIELD
In 1956 the World Health Organisation classified alcoholism as a disease: with noticeable symptoms and 4 phases of severity. This also profoundly affects the family members, friends and significant others and treatment is a specialist field.
Fourteen years ago I was directed to Al-Anon Family Groups (a sister group to the well-known AA Fellowship Groups) to learn how to combat the effects of other people's alcoholism in my life where I met some remarkable people. Through education, Al-Anon support and help, and with additional counselling my life has been transformed beyond my wildest dreams with enlightenment, enrichment and enhanced quality.
Some 10 years ago I had an unusual experience in which I felt directed to "my life's purpose" in contemplating the creation of a centre specifically for families who have been affected: [NOT for the alcoholics in their lives]. They are a much neglected majority since each alcoholic is said to have a devastating effect on at least 13 people closely associated in the relationships. Although it is widespread there is a general lack of knowledge and controversial treatment methods.
In 1992 I made an application with good support from three rehabilitation centres, health authorities and social services for planning permission which I was fortunate to receive on the grounds of community need. Doors were opening to allow this to develop. I established a small bed and breakfast business in my house as each child left home to begin a university career. This largely funds the project.
From that time I have moved steadily but slowly forward, with one bricklayer, one carpenter and myself working on the site with other tradespeople called in when appropriate. We have had to dig down to a depth of 2m in parts because the site is on London clay. I have personally cleaned and reused over 16,000 bricks and have had sufficient from 1 barn to cover the rebuilding externally of 2 barns. For fun a time capsule has been built in. I have carefully endeavoured to keep to original building lines and match the old oak and roman tiles. I hope to recycle all materials possible within the site.
The accommodation will provide for 4-8 residential adults and hopefully for additional day visitors. At present one rehabilitation centre is keen to provide the therapy for 5 day stays. God willing, I trust this will come to fruition.
I am working towards a long term vision where people will have a chance to be educated, supported and helped to recover from the ill effects of alcoholism in their lives which causes chaos and despair: to one of empowerment to think positively, develop personally, to communicate for better relationships and to take care of themselves in living a happier, balanced life.
Sally M. Miller, 1995.
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