Betel UK

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Betel UK's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Betel UK is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Directors Kent and Mary Alice
Betel combines a family atmosphere
with therapeutic work
Founded in 1996, Betel UK turns lives around, helping to
stabilise thousands of homeless, addicted and chronically
unemployed men and women. Based in Birmingham, Betel
is a Christian organisation that houses 400 recovering men,
women and families in 12 urban areas, free of charge at a time
when government funding for residential recovery schemes is
scarcer than ever. Director Kent Martin elaborates.
We provide recovery centres sustainably, without cost to the public or to thousands
of low-income families who cannot afford care. We do not expect abstinence to
result from short-term programmes of a few weeks or months, but by modelling a
new, clean lifestyle for 18 months or longer.
Non-clinical approach
Many clinical responses to the interlocking problems of addiction, reoffending and
homelessness are too short in duration, underfunded and seldom “joined up”,
meaning the beneficial effect of one is delivered in isolation from the rest. My son-
in-law, one of our leaders and a recovered heroin addict of 11 years, told a group
of visiting police officers recently that for years he’d been in and out of short-term
rehab clinics, prison, counselling, and methadone programmes, but the problem
was, “I never learned to live clean.” Fifty-nine per cent of residents have abused
substances for more than ten years, and 20 per cent more than 20 years. They
have tried most conventional, shorter-term options available, only to learn that
medicalising a psycho-social problem may help mask the symptoms, but cannot
solve their emotional and relational issues of a personal nature.
»Directors: Kent and Mary Alice
»Founded in 1996
»Based in Birmingham
»Services: Free-to-enter
residential recovery from
addiction, homelessness and
social exclusion.
»Houses some 400 recovering
men, women and families in
12 urban areas
Betel UK
Highlighting best practice
The non-clinical language we employ
sets a different tone from the start.
New entrants are not patients or
clients: they’re residents. They are
welcomed to an empathetic extended
family, run largely by recovered peers.
Instead of self-focused group therapy,
a typical day consists of therapeutic
work – building the personal discipline
of a work ethic in teams of recovering
men or women. We offer a chance to
observe and to embrace an abstinent
lifestyle modelled by one’s surrounding
peers. Our method is, simply, to model
freedom, and it’s powerful.
Free to enter
Britain’s addiction epidemic is fed
by an insatiable drive for money,
from pusher to purchaser. In the last
few years, government spending on
residential rehabilitation services in
England has been slashed by 25 per
cent nationwide, and by 50 per cent in
at least eight councils. During a visit by
NHS-funded healthcare professionals to
our south Birmingham residence a few
months ago, the chief officer in charge
of dispensing treatment services for
an entire West Midlands county told
me their budget was, essentially, zero.
As a result, they hadn’t sent anyone to
residential rehabilitation for over a year.
There are other private-pay options for
families fortunate enough to afford
them. A comparison of seven such
respected residential centres ranged in
price from £895 to as high as £9,240
per week. This is not accessible for
the 12,000 residents over the last 23
years who arrived living on benefits.
We work on radical financial principles
that are boldly counter-cultural. Our
residences are free to enter, as we hold
to the core value that no one should
be denied help.
Strongly sustainable
We generate the money required to
maintain 12 residential locations, helping
nearly 400 formerly unemployable
men, women and families, through the
diligent work of our recovering residents
themselves, inspired by the examples
of changed lives around them. In 2017,
they earned nearly £4.5 million, 79 per
cent of our annual income. Residents
come to respect our guiding ethos, a
conviction that it is their responsibility to
foot expensive recovery costs. They share
the responsibility to transform their own
lives. In this way, our communities are
“peer-led” – more experienced members
mentor by example the newest entrants.
Our dozens of social enterprises
are real-world businesses. They
serve both to train on the job
hundreds of recovering individuals
in landscape gardening, catering,
office administration, delivery
driving, warehousing, sales, furniture
restoration, online retailing and tree
surgery. Our
Rising Café
located inside Coventry Cathedral,
received the honour of a royal visit, as
the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
heard of our restaurant’s reputation
and asked to hear the stories of
transformed lives. The rebuilding
of trust and confidence inspires
residents to take back responsibility
Our residences
are free to
enter, as we
hold to the
core value
that no one
should be
denied help
Sara and Phil started smoking
cannabis at age 11 and
became addicted to class A
drugs as teenagers for more
than ten years. Each diagnosed
with multiple mental health
disorders growing up, they
lived homeless between prison
sentences and police holding
cells. Sara was signed off “sick
for life”, told she would never
work. They arrived at Betel
hopeless, unemployed and living on benefits. Now drug and alcohol-
free for four years, they are the supervising chefs and team leaders at
our two Rising Café restaurants, where they had the honour of
meeting Prince William and Kate to tell them their against-the-odds
for their own lives. They proudly help
pay for their own recovery, and the
result is life-changing. Our charitable
businesses don’t simply help meet
operating costs, as is generally the case
with charities. In 2017, they generated
enough income to convert a thousand-
pound donation into £3,340.
A frequent sore point of government
spending is Britain’s overcrowded
prisons, and 70 per cent of our residents
are ex-offenders. More drug-related
sentences should be served with us. In
2017, it cost twice as much to imprison
someone than for us to house them:
£38,000 versus £17,843. Of those costs,
our residents’ work contributed £13,300
each towards their living expenses.
Our model breeds hope, turning on
its head the notion that addicted
ex-offenders are helpless to change.
Based on a government cost-analysis
study we have saved society more than
£130 million since 1996 in reduced
rehabilitation, social welfare benefits,
crime, prison and medical costs.
Long-term solution
Broken lives need time to heal. The
pressures of pragmatism and politics
demand positive results, regardless of
available funding and its chokehold
on recovery services. When we first
opened our doors in 1996, a desperately
addicted person was eligible for up to
18 months’ residential funding. By 2018,
the norm is now two to 12 weeks. The
scale of this losing battle is captured in
the government’s own NICE guidelines,
which admit that of one million alcohol-
dependent people in England, only six
per cent receive treatment each year.
Very few people who are socially
disadvantaged by years of addiction,
offending, homelessness and
unemployment have sufficient time
to change in two to 12 weeks. We
need longer-term, vital alternatives to
today’s norm. The life-transforming
values required to counteract
anti-social behaviour aren’t derived
from government housing schemes
or back-to-work programmes. They
are not necessarily found in expensive
professional therapies.
Our experience is that most people’s
healing initiates from the subtler art
of crafting healthy relationships; there
is healing power in community. Our
residences universally uphold the
virtues of honesty, kindness, diligence,
respect for others and forgiveness
espoused by Christian and other faith
traditions. It’s these that gradually
restore trust and human dignity to
broken lives. In an atmosphere where
healthy relationships nurture everyday
needs for belonging, self-confidence
and purpose, individuals see the worth
in rebuilding a new life around socially
desirable values.
Our experience
is that most
people’s healing
initiates from
the art of
crafting healthy
not clinical
From age five,Kim(right) was taken into care from alcoholic parents.
Addicted to heroin for 11 years, she was classed a prolific offender
with over 100 offences. When not in prison, she worked the streets
to fund her habit. Now married with two children, she works in
Betel’s finance office and oversees 32 recovering women.Nickiewas
addicted to alcohol for five years when doctors gave her eight weeks
to live. Before entering Betel she lost everything, including a painting
and decorating business, and came to us living on benefits. Now a
women’s support leader, she helps run our gardening business admin,
when not happily painting somewhere around our properties.

This article was sponsored by Betel UK. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister