The programme visits the UK's first rehabilitation centre for armed services veterans. And examining the planned changes to Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester.
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Hello and welcome to Inside Out North West,
with me Dianne Oxberry.
Tonight, we investigate the support veterans get for addiction
and alcoholism once they've left the forces and revisit the country's
first specialised rehab centre.
While they are in the forces, they find everything
they wanted, really - belonging, purpose, direction.
When they come out, they get lost in the system.
A concrete monstrosity or modern classic?
We ask if that Wall in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens could come down.
Tadao Ando, the architect of the Pavilion, is a world-class
architect and we should be very proud to have his work in our city.
I don't think many Mancunians would agree with me.
And does the world of theatre reflect our diverse society?
We go behind the scenes of the first fully accessible play
at the Royal Exchange Theatre?
Some people don't lift their arms up, say, higher than this.
So you can't get into the a dress like this.
It's been described as the last taboo in the British military
but the misuse of drugs and alcohol among ex forces personnel is leading
to these once-proud servicemen and women sleeping rough
and serving time in prison.
The problem is being tackled by the country's first
specialised rehab centre, which has been set up in Liverpool.
Thomas Harrison House claims they can succeed where mainstream
treatment centres have failed.
A group of former soldiers enjoying a night out in Liverpool.
But they've more than their past service in common.
They're not drinking, because each one of them is a graduate
of Thomas Harrison House, the UK's first rehab centre
especially for veterans.
Does it bother you that you're not drinking tonight?
Honestly, no. It doesn't.
Because that tastes nicer than alcohol.
The best thing I ever did was put a drink down.
You know, life doesn't revolve around a drink, I don't think,
and I used to think that it did.
But obviously not.
Chris Newton joined the army when he was 17.
He was an infantry soldier in the Kings Own Royal Border regiment.
His five-year career would take him all over the world,
including a tour of Northern Ireland.
But an IRA bombing of his barracks would trigger the end of his career.
I thought I was going to die that night.
I thought I was going to die.
I thought my time, it was up.
I thought, "This is it, I ain't coming out of here alive."
And after that, your career started to fall apart, really?
Within four months. I never had a career.
I never had nowhere to live and I had no job,
I had no financial backing.
I was just put into Civilian Street and told,
"Here you are, get on with it."
How did you leave? What were the circumstances?
I was getting into a lot of trouble, me,
and I wasn't doing as I was told.
I was going in and out of out-of-bounds areas and, um...
they'd had enough of my misbehaviour, so they discharged me.
How did you feel about that?
Very disappointed, actually, after the work I put in.
Were you, to a degree, your own worst enemy, though?
Yeah. When I put a drink inside me.
How did the drinking become a problem?
I don't know, I think the drinking became a problem,
because the thing is, I had nothing to do with my days.
The thing is, I felt let down, you know, and the drink
was just a solution to me.
Chris' drinking took him from proud soldier to street drinker,
with spells in prison.
It's estimated as many as one in ten rough sleepers are ex-forces.
Chris shows me the bench in Liverpool
where he did much of his drinking.
I was drinking with other people I didn't even know,
cos there's a lot of it going on in this city
at the moment and, um, yeah, I was at my lowest,
I didn't really know what I was doing.
I was that drunk, you know!
So what changed? One night, I was stood outside here.
I'd been drinking all day, it was about 11.30 at night
and this guy pulled a trolley round the corner,
his name was Colin Dobie.
He said to me, "Do you want to change?
I work in a place called Tom Harrison House,
"a military rehabilitation centre."
I said, "Yeah, I do," and that was two years ago,
this time of year as well.
And here I am, 20 months sober and clean.
So what was it about that day and that approach that
gelled together perfectly?
I think it was just because I'd never been offered that kind of help
any time in my life.
Someone offered me a lifeline and I could see it.
Someone genuinely offering me a way out.
I did was the right approach, because it was
with other servicemen?
That was it, yeah, with other servicemen.
Rehab relies heavily on group therapy
and the opening up of emotions - a real challenge to servicemen
used to suppressing their feelings.
However, at Thomas Harrison House, this is made easier by them
having a shared experience.
The people I've spoken to, who have tried mainstream treatment centres,
I've asked them why it didn't work for them.
And a lot of the answers they've gave are things
like they just weren't understood, or they didn't feel part of,
and they weren't sure what they could say
in front of civilians.
One guy said he'd joined a treatment centre and he'd done
an exercise where he revealed he'd been in the forces
and then, for the next few days, he just got loads of inappropriate
questions from civilians that he doesn't want to answer.
So that wasn't safe for him? No.
It wasn't a comfortable experience for him?
No, he didn't feel part of the group there.
One way the soldiers are encouraged to open up
is through equine therapy.
Every Wednesday morning, the veterans come to
Shy Lowen Horse Sanctuary, a place for rescued and damaged
horses, where animal and soldier help to heal each other.
Hi, Paul, who's this? This is Muffin.
Paul was one of the first soldiers to graduate
from Thomas Harrison House 2.5 years ago.
What is it about working with horses that you have kind of taking two?
What is it about working with horses that you have kind of taken two?
Well, the same kind of mentality, really, I think.
Um, they've got issues, I've got issues.
And, um, we sort of, like, relate to each other.
As you work with them, you find all that stuff.
It's like the mirror image, really, of yourself.
Has it made you become a little more emotionally aware?
Because some men, you know, particularly ex-servicemen,
you might hide your feelings?
You might not be that open about how your feeling about stuff.
Yeah, that's right.
In the services, like, you don't say nothing
about nothing, really. But, um...
Yeah, because, like I said before, it opened me up, because the issues,
it nearly brought me to tears, because I could feel...
I could feel his pain as well. What he had been through.
Because, don't forget, these horses as well,
these are in recovery.
It had me thinking of the things that had happened to me in the past
and stuff like that, and where I am today.
I'm finding, in the two years I've worked here,
that a stereotypical journey from someone into Tom Harrison House
would be, um, an upbringing in a working class area,
where they suffer some form of trauma in the early family life,
they join the forces to get away from that trauma, and,
while they're in the forces, they find everything
that they wanted, really - belonging, purpose, direction -
but then, they suffer more trauma and then, when they come out,
they get lost in the system somewhere, because they're reluctant
to ask for help, so it's quite a lot
-- to ask for help, so it's why a lot
of homeless people are veterans, prison population, and also just
people who've never been involved with the service,
they're just sitting bedsits alone, drinking themselves to death.
It costs ?10,000 to put a veteran through the three-month programme
and funding is a constant challenge for the charity.
Sometimes, what happens is, the chasing the money takes so long
that someone just says, "I'm done, I can't now
"continue to want to come in, I'm good to go back out and use,"
"continue to want to come in, I'm going to go back out and use,"
and, before we know it, they're back on the street.
What should the MoD be offering former servicemen and women
when they leave the Armed Forces, so that we don't get
in this position?
I think it's more a question of, not when they leave,
but when they start.
It's about shifting the culture of drinking within the Armed Forces,
because the culture has been - and there's evidence to prove this -
that men and women in the Armed Forces are drinking
at dangerously high levels, compared to the UK general public.
It works out over double the rate of substance misuse issues.
Work hard, play hard - we understand that.
We're not saying, you know, soldiers shouldn't drink.
We're saying that they should be able to, but they should be
supported to do that in a way that's healthy,
but I think, if the MoD knows that someone's got a drug or alcohol
problem before they leave, they should be directly
plugging them into us.
Now, the public have a lot of goodwill toward veterans.
Do you think they would be surprised that there is very,
very little ongoing support offered to them when they leave service?
I think so.
I think what we've got now is some great packages of help
and care for veterans.
But those packages focus on the individuals being either
wounded, injured or sick, and that incorporates mental health.
What it doesn't tend to incorporate is addiction and alcoholism.
It's like it's the last taboo for veterans.
That Prince Harry is very much now raising the profile
of mental health, but really, not touching on addiction
There are so many issues raised here, not just about funding
for places at Thomas Harrison House, or the role that alcohol
plays in forces life, but also what the servicemen that
I spoke to see as a lack of support when they are discharged.
I wanted to put these points to a government minister,
but sadly, our request for an interview was denied
by the Ministry of Defence.
LAUGHTER AND CHATTER.
With an 85% success rate, Thomas Harrison House hopes
to continue its work changing the lives of veterans like Chris
and his fellow graduates.
They did a lot for me, you know, they offered me a lifeline
when I came out of prison this year that nobody else did,
so I took that lifeline, like.
Piccadilly Gardens is one of the first things that visitors
to Manchester see when they come to the city centre.
Yet, to many Mancunians, it's considered an eyesore,
an architectural disaster and even a waste of public money.
But like it or loathe it, it's about to get a revamp,
as Jacey Normand investigates.
Manchester's public spaces were under the spotlight this summer
after the local newspaper, the Manchester Evening news,
began a campaign on the state of Piccadilly Gardens -
the large open space in the middle of a busy transport interchange.
They highlighted the perceived decline from its former glory days
of the 1950s and '60s and they challenged the council
to step in and restore Mancunians pride and a lot of people agreed.
I don't think it's particularly beautiful as it is at the moment.
It's not as nice as it used to be, that's for sure.
I don't think this helps.
You used to be able to see everything when you got off
the tram, it was very open, but it's not now.
It needs smartening up. It's a bit of a dump, really.
It led to a call for the gardens to be given a major facelift
and to demolish the love it or loathe it concrete wall.
A petition was started and needed 4,000 signatures to be debated
by the city council and, by April, it had reached 20,000
and the council took notice.
It was a well-intentioned, but ultramodernist revamp and,
in my view, many Mancunians say it was a missed opportunity...
They debated the issues and promised to ensure the gardens
would not go to seed. But how could we have come to this?
The gardens were very different in the Victoria era.
The space was a hospital and the site of the
Royal Manchester Infirmary, which was demolished in 1914.
The area remained empty for a few years whilst different
uses were discussed, including an art gallery,
but it ended up being left and made into the largest open green space
in the city centre.
As the hospital had a basement, the gardens became the sunken
gardens most people remember.
And many have called for a return to the gardens of the past.
But like them or loathe them, not everybody shares this
nostalgic view of how Piccadilly Gardens once were.
Some of us think we should be looking forward
instead of looking back.
A lot of it is to do with fashion.
People just need to get used to buildings, and it's unsustainable
for a building to be up 10-15 years, it falls out of fashion
and to knock it down.
You know, there were probably people who hated the town hall
when it was first built, but they wouldn't have knocked it
down within 10-15 years, because of public opinion.
Give it 20-30 years' time, people might learn to love
the Pavilion in Piccadilly Gardens.
It was over 20 years ago, in November 1995, that
Manchester won their bid to host the Commonwealth Games and plans
started for a major revamp of sites in the city centre.
This reconstruction had to be drastically expanded seven months
later, when the IRA bomb exploded and meant major works would be
necessary to not just return Manchester to how it was,
but create a city and a space for the 21st century.
Piccadilly Gardens was part of that expansion and renowned Japanese
architect, Tadao Ando, was employed to design a space
for the next generation.
Although applauded at the time, today, attitudes may be changing
and the Piccadilly Wall has, in some quarters, been
likened to the Berlin Wall.
Tadao Ando, the architect of the Pavilion, is a world-class
architect and we should be very proud to have his work in our city.
But I don't think many Mancunians would agree with me.
It's very easy to blame architecture for society's problems
and especially local authorities are very quick to condemn spaces
for their architecture, when really it's a management issue.
If you dig down into people's complaints about Piccadilly Gardens,
it's often not about the space or the architecture.
It's often about anti-social behaviour or drug dealing
or something or the maintenance.
But the city council will come along and say, "Right,
"we need to do something about this."
It's easier just to knock it all down and
start again than actually deal with the real problems.
Anti-social behaviour has been an issue in the Gardens.
Its notoriety in the city as a crime hotspot was cemented when police
made a number of arrests in November as part of a crackdown
on drug dealers.
But in fact, these have always been issues for the authorities,
even when they were the Gardens we all knew and loved.
We're not going to put back a sunken garden that is full
of drunks and drug addicts, which nobody would go
through at night.
And we are going to do anything we do to recognise that, simply,
there are tens of thousands of people go through that space
every day and it's got to be able to cope with tens
of thousands of people.
I think the criticism about maintenance is legitimate criticism.
I don't think it's been maintained in the way it should've been.
What we have to do is I think find a way of maintaining the greenness
of the Gardens and make that compatible with the really
heavy usage that it's always going to have.
Prior to 2002, when the current version was created,
nobody used to use Piccadilly Gardens.
Since 2002, if anything, Piccadilly Gardens has
been a victim of their own success.
And whether you like the architecture or not,
the discussion around Piccadilly Gardens
has also highlighted another important issue -
the selling off of our public spaces.
If any major changes were to be made to the Gardens,
it would cost money.
In 2002, renovating the Gardens cost ?10 million.
The council got that money by leasing off part of the Gardens
to private investors.
The area of the Pavilion, Number 1 Piccadilly and the Wall
are all in private hands and Emma Curtin, a lecturer
in architecture, thinks Manchester lost out in the sell off.
We lost the rights of way in Piccadilly Gardens,
over ten years ago now.
In order to allow this development and Number 1 Piccadilly Gardens,
the rights of way were extinguished and it became essentially
private private land, so now, we're only...
We can continue to use it, like a public space,
but that's permitted access. We don't have the right to be here.
The new owners of 1 Piccadilly and the Pavilion
are Legal General.
They finally released their new vision for the site
in November and their proposals include the removal
of the concrete wall.
The council say they had taken public opinion into account
to remove the current wall and would also improve
the gardens in a multimillion pound investment plan.
And even the architect, Tadoo Ando, when told
that his wall could come down, gave this very
One of the proposals around the Wall seems to be that there could be
shops placed on both sides of it or even above it, so that will be
taking away more of the open space and enclosing it into commercial
space and that's only possible, because we've already lost
the universal right to use this as a public space and, actually,
that's something that we could see happening in other spaces
around the city.
In the past, public spaces like Piccadilly Gardens
would be a place to meet people, relax and to discuss
the issues of the day.
They were places where we met future husbands and wives.
They were the focus of a city and a community.
We're hardwired as a people to want to spend time together,
but in the internet age - where we can access everything
at the click of a button - it's unsurprising that we've
overlooked the importance of public places today.
So whether you like the Wall, or you hate the Wall,
or you choose to spend time in the Gardens or simply pass
through, one thing's for certain - Piccadilly Gardens is at the heart
of Manchester city centre.
And generations of us will continue to use it
for a long time to come.
Now, does the world of theatre reflect our diverse society?
The BBC's disability news correspondent, Nikki Fox,
has been behind the scenes of the first fully accessible
play at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre,
where the majority of the cast is disabled.
I said silence.
These actors have taken on an almighty task.
Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba is a notoriously
tricky one to get right.
The show has just come to an end here at Manchester's
Royal Exchange Theatre, a treasured venue for many
who live in the North West.
for some, this place is as important as the city's
two main football clubs.
Now, it's just gone down a storm in there.
So I'm going to tell you how we got to this point
and take you behind the scenes.
How is everyone? All right?
So there's just over a week to go until opening night and the cast
are here busy rehearsing and there's no mucking around.
We cannot get in the way.
Don't look at me!
It's all going on at the theatre, and it's a big job
for the cast and crew.
So you're going to put it in here, you're going to put it in here,
and we're going to slide across.
This production features an all female and pretty much
all deaf and disabled cast.
How I had to suffer...
The play is about a mother's suffocating grip on her five
daughters, and it's as intense as it is challenging.
I'd rather sweep the streets...
And every little detail has to be thought of.
So I've just been told about this area here.
It's the costume department, where the magic happens.
The ladies inside here are going to be making costumes
for all the actors on stage and, apparently, everything's
changing and evolving.
It's all very exciting, only a couple of days to go,
so I'm going to have a little look and see what it's like.
Is it like Strictly Come Dancing? Who knows?
This is bigger than I thought.
There's some big frocks!
We've got to think about how some people don't lift their arms,
say, higher than this. Mm-hm.
So you can't get into a dress like this.
So you have to think about everything a little bit more
and from everybody's point of view.
From if your eyes work or if your ears work,
or if your body works, and you've got to take
all that in as well.
For the player's director Jenny, working with a cast
of actors with different disabilities isn't unusual.
It's those reactions that have been massive, but they have...
You have to hear it in your head and you have to feel it.
It's this passion she puts into running Greaeae,
a theatre company all about putting deaf and disabled
It's a necessity, I think.
There are so few opportunities out there for deaf and disabled people.
It is 2017, we are and we have been - for many, many, many years -
part of society, so theatre is the best place to demonstrate
who we are, what we do and what we are about
and that we are people.
Using a space to challenge perceptions of disability
is what Jenny is all about.
As the driving force behind the opening ceremony of
the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she showed the world what
deaf and disabled people can do.
This time, her stage is smaller, but the scale
of the task is just as great.
It's terrifying, actually. I am scared!
I think it's because you're so exposed.
So that's why we're so disciplined with the girls.
How they sit, how they move, everything!
Which is important when this is your stage.
And the transformation is underway.
When it comes to physical access, this place is sorted.
Lifts and ramps are already part of the theatre.
But to help deaf audience members, screens are being put up and changes
to the script will help blind people understand the action.
The production is constantly evolving,
because it has to incorporate the actors' different disabilities.
What's your sister saying?
Peeking at the men througha crack in the gate!
Peeking at the men through a crack in the gate!
You, come here!
I said do you think it's decent for a woman of your class to go
running after men the day of her father's funeral?
Answer me! Who were you looking at?
I... I was looking...
In fact, the signers even form part of the play itself,
and they help the actors understand each other.
These challenges have been to work on the show to make it work
for deaf and disabled actors.
That's been the most amazing, fascinating challenge of all.
And I think the changes that I've had to make have actually improved
the play in many ways.
They've added a whole new dimension of richness and meaning to the text.
Back in rehearsals, Jenny is working through the intricacies of each
scene, and the cast can't afford to waste any time.
No, don't go and sit down, straight in there.
For Jenny, this has to be right.
I started thinking about Lorca and somebody there said, "I'm sorry,
"but Lorca did not write plays for you lot to be in!"
You know, that is, for me, that's a red rag to bull.
I was like, "Right, we are doing Lorca!
"Many times, we are doing Lorca!"
Who has the right to say what plays we can and cannot do?
This attitude may be one of the reasons why latest research
suggests there aren't any deaf or disabled students in some
of the top drama schools in the UK.
Ladies, taking a break from rehearsals?
Philip, who has a prosthetic leg, has been acting for several years.
I don't know, I sleep like a log!
Have you found any barriers to do with having a disability?
I did find, when I started auditioning for drama schools,
that the big elephant in the room was my disability, and,
when I did end up managing to get a place at a drama school,
it was never discussed, because I think I felt at the end
of my tether and didn't declare it.
And with my disability, I can hide it or I can make it known.
And that day, I think I was so fed up, I just kept it
covered and just performed.
The Arts Council knows there is a problem.
Their own research suggests just 4% working in the industry
have said they have a disability.
I don't get it. Maybe I'm just being thick.
I just don't understand what the problem is.
You're at theatre, for God's sake! Use your imagination!
Sorry, it just makes me so cross!
And this is what imagination can achieve.
So what do the audience think of the opening night?
What do you make of the fact the cast are majority deaf or disabled?
Did it kind of enhance the experience for you?
Definitely, I think it worked really well with the story as well,
it fitted so well, and yeah, it completely enhanced it,
it give it another level.
Right, now I need to find a man, because this cast
is just full of women. It's just women, women, women!
We need a man. Man!
It's so immersive.
Yeah, I haven't seen any Lorca plays played out like this before.
Perhaps, but it's better this way, now sit down!
We will know true equality when writers don't have to write
plays that have disabled characters.
We can play many, many, many, many roles!
And I hate saying this, because it means I won't have a job,
but for me, true equality will mean when we don't need Greaeae any more.
I said silence.
Well, that play looks fantastic.
Now, that's all from us for this week,
but Inside Out is back next Monday at 7.30.
Until then, goodbye.
Next week, we report on dark skies and discover why our region
is becoming a tourist destination for stargazers.
The legends of the stars and the history and the spectacular
things we get to see over the years, they all make an important asset
that we need to protect.
Hello, I'm Riz Lateef with your 90-second update.
We go inside the UK's first rehabilitation centre for armed services veterans and investigate calls for the government to do more to tackle addiction in the forces. Jacey Normand examines the planned changes to one of Manchester biggest and most controversial public spaces - Piccadilly Gardens. Should we look to the past or the future for inspiration? Is the world of theatre no longer reflecting our diverse society? The BBC's disability news correspondent Nikki Fox goes behind the scenes of the first fully accessible play at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, where the majority of the cast is disabled.