Since 1961, the Salvation Army’s Gloucester House has been providing solid 12-step focused recovery for men in the town of Highworth. The town of Highworth is not a super happening place, but it’s less than two hours’ drive from central London, so at Gloucester House, clients have the benefit of the country’s sleepy pace without being too far removed from civilization.
Accommodations and Food
Gloucester House clients live together in a 19th century three-story townhouse on High Street, in the center of town, surrounded by restaurants and local stores. The back of the house faces a courtyard with a workshop and a small brick building where residents meet for groups. Things haven’t changed much in the 50 years it has been in business—there have never been more than 15 men in residence at a time.
Clients eat at dining tables in the kitchen where meals are served buffet style. The food is simple fare. Residents are responsible for clearing their own places. Tea and coffee are available for clients to make on their own. The bedrooms upstairs are bite-sized; each client has his own twin bed and dresser. Linens and towels are provided. Bathrooms are shared between several residents. Imagine being a part of a family that has a lot of brothers, where everything is provided but there’s not a lot of elbowroom.
Treatment and Staff
Gloucester House believes long-term treatment gives clients the opportunity to start living a sober lifestyle in a safe climate. There are two designated phases of treatment at Gloucester House; residents typically graduate to phase two after three months. Phase one is mostly spent in a Gloucester House bubble. At first, new clients aren’t allowed to leave the grounds un-chaperoned. Each is assigned a “buddy” for the first weeks. As residents become better adjusted and demonstrate their cooperation with house rules, restrictions are loosened and approved visitors are allowed.
Clients in their second phase (after the first 90 days) of treatment have more responsibilities, whereas in phase one all basic needs are provided for and days are spent within the therapeutic community with lots of structure. After breakfast in the morning, residents have group therapy. Groups are led by a counselor, and topics are standard rehab fare: anger management, relapse prevention, effects of alcohol and drugs, codependency, health, assertive communication, understanding emotions. There are also regular process groups to allow clients to voice intra-community interpersonal issues. Each resident meets with his personal counselor at least once a week for individual therapy. A few times a week, a staff member drives clients to nearby Swindon for 12-step AA or NA meetings. In addition, alumni often return to the house to peer counsel the residents.
Afternoons are for creative therapy. Gloucester residents can use the workshop in the backyard to do woodworking, pottery, picture framing, or visual art (watercolors, acrylics, glass paintings). An experienced ceramist teaches pottery. Clients less interested in these kinds of arts and crafts can learn to garden during workshop.
During phase two of treatment, residents can take the bus to Swindon on their own to look for employment or volunteer work. Phase two clients do their own self-catering and budgeting. They may still attend group and have one-on-ones: participation doesn’t drop all at one once, but draws down over time. Even after graduating the residential program, residents may still attend groups one day a week. The Gloucester community also goes on regular outings together—to the movies, on country walks, to the Turkish baths.
It should be noted that a large percentage of Gloucester House clients are middle-aged men who in their drinking days may have missed certain career opportunities. To that end, Gloucester House offers life skill education. Literacy classes and computer classes are offered as needed. Gloucester counselors help residents who want to go back to school with these arrangements in phase two.
Woodworking, pottery, picture framing, visual art (watercolors, acrylics, glass paintings), pottery and gardening are some of the extras offered at Gloucester House, in addition to regular community outings.
Gloucester House is a six-to-nine month commitment for most clients. A majority of the men are sent by drug and alcohol agencies, the National Health Service, or criminal justice agencies, but self-referred residents are also welcome. There are not a lot of young men in this program; for most men who come to Gloucester House, getting sober has become a matter of life and death. Theirs is a small program, and no man gets lost in the shuffle. Especially for those who live nearby, a long stay at Gloucester House allows clients to set up a new life while surrounded by community support, and alumni are welcomed back to Gloucester House at any time.
6 High St
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