Arc Cafe Film

Smith & Williamson raise £4,000 for Arc Cafe

Bristol insolvency professionals raised more than £4,000 for Ara’s Arc Café after getting their thinking caps on for a quiz night hosted by accountancy, tax and investment management group Smith & Williamson.

The “Nearly Christmas Charity Quiz” has been held by the firm’s restructuring and recovery services department in Bristol for the past six years.

This year it raised £4,080 for Ara’s Arc Café at St Mary Redcliffe Church. Over the past seven years it has raised almost £18,000 for local charities.

Gil Lemon, partner in Smith & Williamson’s restructuring and recovery services said, ” We tend to select smaller local charities for whom the money raised can make a real difference. The event has become a fixture in the diary for many local firms and this year’s quiz was our best attended so far.”

Ara’s CEO Graham England added, “All of the money raised will go towards ensuring we can help more people rebuild their self-confidence, work skills and ultimately achieve paid employment. We can’t thank Smith & Williamson enough for holding the fundraising quiz and also thank those who attended for their support.”



Secretary of State’s Visit

James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government visited Bristol on 7 November to see the work being funded by the Government’s Rough Sleepers Initiative. June Clarke, Ara’s Housing Services Manager, who co-ordinates the new prison release work as part of this initiative, was invited to meet the Minister at St Anne’s House – the new shelter for rough sleepers.

June spoke to the Minister about the importance of joined up partnership working across government Health, Justice and Housing departments, as well as the need for a high level of co-ordination at local level. June emphasised the need to meet prisoners when they are in prison to help them arrange housing and at the gate when they are released.

Ara announces Simon Thompson as its new Chair

The Board of Trustees at Ara would like to welcome Simon Thompson to the board in the role of Chair.

Simon takes over this position due to Ara’s current Chair, Patsy Hudson, standing down at the end of her term of office.

At its AGM on 5th November, the Board thanked Patsy for her excellent stewardship and for leading the development of Ara’s exciting new 5 year strategy “Springboards for Growth”.

Simon has over 25 years’ experience of successfully leading, commissioning and delivering innovative health, housing and social care services at Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer level in the public, charity and private sectors.

Patsy said, “Being involved with Ara for the past 9 years has been a very special experience for me. As in any organisation there have been ups and downs. However I leave feeling confident that Ara is in a position to work with and support an increasing number of clients who will benefit from the excellent support and recovery services that Ara delivers”.

Simon said, “I would like to thank Patsy for her excellent leadership over the last 9 years, leaving at a time when Ara has sustainability, an exceptional Board and management team. I am extremely proud and delighted to be joining a well-respected charity at a time when we believe we provide a great number of high quality recovery focused services and make a difference to the local community and further afield”.

Graham England Ara’s Chief Executive said, “It is an exciting time in Ara’s history. Our talented Board of Trustees, lead by Patsy, have set an exciting new strategic path for us. With Simon’s experience, knowledge and leadership we will be working hard to expand our much needed and excellent services to more beneficiaries”

New Domain Name For ARA

It is with great pride and pleasure that I send you our new domain name and email address.
As you will have seen my email is now
Ara has been working with some of the most marginalised people in society for over 30 years.
We work with those whose lives are affected by alcohol and drugs, gambling addiction and mental health. All these conditions come with high levels of social exclusion.
Over the past year our Board and stakeholders have been working to review Ara’s Purpose, which aligns with our operational belief that “We make life better because we believe passionately that people can change and recover.”
Our Vision which will be published soon in our 5 year strategy “Springboard for Growth” is exciting, demanding and progressive
The Board and stakeholders also refreshed our Values, these are the core principles our staff teams, volunteers, managers and Board members, operate and conduct business by living our values set out below:
• Passionate
• Dynamic
• Enduring
• Respectful
• Professional
• Supportive

We wanted our values to be more that a set of words so we identified the behaviours that underpin our values
Passionate and courageous, determined and committed to our services users, we are enthusiastic innovators, creating and developing recovery focussed service. We are prepared to go above and beyond to ensure service users achieve their desire for change.
Dynamic and capable, able to make our own decisions, and show leadership throughout the organisation. We are excellent problem solvers, becoming multi-skilled by having a willingness to learn and then to teach others. We have ambition for all of our service users. We will work in collaboration with partners to ensure we deliver to the highest standards.
Enduring and committed to our service users, we are reliable and are flexible to meet changing environments and conditions. Innovation of new services will achieve our purpose, vision, and long term sustainability.
Respectful of all stakeholder needs, we are open minded to different view points, however we are committed to anti-discrimination, challenging it wherever we find it. We focus on equality and diversity, strongly believing in fairness and dignity. We work tirelessly to help service users take control of their lives in a sustainable way
Professional, effective and efficient, using our resources wisely to achieve our vision and services user’s ambitions. We are honest and prepared to admit our mistakes and learn from them. We act with integrity and are accountable in all of our actions
Supportive and caring, we strive to be friendly, approachable, and helpful. We are patient and treat everyone with compassion and kindness
As part of this process you will notice changes to our logo and publicity in readiness for the next stage of our organisations journey.
All of us at Ara look forward to you all being part of a successful future tackling challenges and taking opportunities because We make life better because we believe passionately that people can change and recover.
Thank-you for your continued support.

Young Peoples Problem Gambling

What’s the BigDeal? Problem gambling in today’s young people.

25,000 under 18 year olds are problem gamblers in the UK according to The Children and Young People’s Gambling: Research Review (December 2017, Gambling Commission), with approx. 1 in 9, 11-15 year olds illegally gambling every week.

These striking statistics form a starting point in dispelling the myth that gambling isn’t a problem for today’s youths.

In my work as the young people’s gambling project officer for Bristol’s Addiction Recovery Agency (ARA) in partnership with GamCare’s young people’s gambling project BigDeal, I have had the privilege to speak first hand to young people about their experiences and views around gambling.

Young people from the age of 11 are very aware of gambling and in discussions they talk about how much they notice the heavy influx of gambling related advertisements in the media but many didn’t feel that there were dangers to gambling. The fact that an average of 370,000 of the UK’s young people up to the age of 15 go on to gamble each week before they are even old enough to legally buy a scratch card or play Lotto, is an eye opener for many parents and professionals working with young people.

Professionals I have worked with admit that they centralise their focus on young people’s potential risky behaviours around the more obvious addictions such as drugs and alcohol, not realising that problem gambling can be just as detrimental to a young person’s life and has the highest suicide rate out of all addictions. This highlights how problem gambling in young people can be a real mental health concern and should be considered by professionals who have safeguarding responsibilities for young people.

The question often arises regarding how underage people manage to gamble and research has suggested that this can occur due to a number of reasons starting with parents introducing them to the activities as something fun to do or non-regulated fruit machines, private poker games or bets with friends.

These facts form just the beginning of where gambling can start for young people today but the risk increases considerably when the young person reaches an age where they can legally gamble. Significant increases in gambling activities in young people up to the age of 25 have included online gambling and a rise in the use of high stake Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in bookmaker shops generating devastating losses for some young gamblers, in very short spaces of time.

These facts drive our passion here at ARA for educating both young people and professionals that work with young people on the facts around gambling with FREE workshops that are delivered in organisations across the South West of England and South Wales. These workshops help to start conversations with young people about gambling in fun and interactive sessions and help raise awareness around how to make safe and sensible choices around any gambling activities they may get involved in.

Professional workshops include training on how to screen for problem gambling and how to conduct a brief intervention with a young person if required. All workshops give clear information on how to seek help if problem gambling is identified to give young people the right support.

If you’d like to learn more or book a workshop don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on .

Together we can make a difference by making sure our young people stay safe around gambling.

By Rebecca Vials- Young Peoples Project Officer, ARA

UCATT conference on problematic gambling

The first ever national conference on problematic gambling in the workplace organised by the construction trade union, UCATT, took place at Manchester Town Hall in November.

ARA’s Managing Director Graham England was one of the speakers. For a full report on the conference click here.

Connect Psychology in Bradley Stoke

ARA’s Connect Psychology service is now at Bradley Stoke Surgery, South Gloucestershire three days a week.

Connect Psychology provides cognitive and behavioural therapy for low mood and anxiety related problems. For more information on the service click here

Stephen Merchant visits the Arc Cafe

We were delighted that comedian, writer and director Stephen Merchant visited ARA’s  Arc Café. The Arc Café, run in partnership with St Mary Redcliffe Church, offers fantastic food to its customers and has a huge impact on the lives of its volunteers.

Stephen said , ” People need help to overcome their problems and projects like the Arc Café are well worth supporting”.

To bring in the New Year, ARA is setting up “Friends of the Arc Café”. This will include businesses, individuals, enterprises and organisations. Our Friends will support the café with increased footfall, catering orders, sponsorship and donations.

To become a Friend of the Arc Café please contact Chloe Diamond on 0117 9300282 or



The Arc Café at Treefest

Treefest is a Christmas Tree festival held at St Mary Redcliffe Church for a full week just before Christmas. The festival raises money for local charities. Businesses, schools , community groups and charitable organisations are invited to provide and decorate Christmas trees.

ARA’s Arc Café entered a tree decorated by volunteers. The café also served mince pies and alcohol free punch on the opening evening and sold tea, coffee and cakes at a pop up café throughout the week.