1998 to May 2000: Janis Feely (an addiction counsellor) approaches local churches, organisations and individuals to support her vision for a structured day treatment centre.
The Living Room launches in May 2000 through the support of local people and Council.
May 2000 to April 2003: We secure a suitable self-contained, council owned, site in 2002. We recruit key admin staff and the counselling and therapy team. The fully refurbished building includes a crèche decorated by clients. We introduce small groups for those with sex and love addictions and eating disorders.
April 2003 to March 2005: Our first sponsored fundraising events include a parachute jump and national motorcycle tour. We receive a highly commended award from The Centre for Social Justice Awards.
April 2005 to March 2007: We open our first charity shop (Revival). We hold our first Charity Ball – attracting high profile guests including the Mayor of Stevenage and High Sheriff of Hertfordshire.
April 2007 to March 2010: We receive our second Highly Commended Award from Centre for Social Justice. Our Freedom Project (working with young sex workers) wins a High Sherriff Award. Wynford Ellis Owen, CEO of The Welsh Council of Alcohol and Other Drugs http://www.welshcouncil.org.uk begins work on establishing a bilingual Living Room in Cardiff, Wales. Janis receives many awards both nationally and locally including most notibly an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List.
2012: We open our St Albans Centre.
January 2015: Our St Albans centre receives the High Sheriff Award.
July and October 2015 – Lloyds Bank Foundation awards The Living Room ‘Unsung Hero for the East of England’ and ‘Unsung Hero UK Runner Up’: Lloyds Bank Foundation selected The Living Room from charities across the East of England as their Charity Achievement Awards Unsung Hero Regional Winner. We received a cash prize of £1,000 and went on to compete against charities from across England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands for the title of UK Finalist. The results were announced at the UK Final awards ceremony on 8th October, attended by our Drug Addiction Counsellor, Laura Drane, and our Founder and CEO, Janis Feely MBE, and we were awarded ‘Unsung Hero UK Runner Up’.
It was Laura Drane’s story that enabled us to achieve these awards. Laura first came to The Living Room as a client in 2008 on a friend’s recommendation. Laura was addicted to drugs and alcohol and had a history of abusive relationships with men.
Laura says, “I didn’t even know that I was an addict. I knew I drank too much but the idea of addiction didn’t cross my mind. I was really lucky to have a friend who saw the addictions in me.”
Whilst attending our Stevenage Centre every weekday for 18 months, Laura showed a strong aptitude for helping others and it was suggested by staff that she should become a counsellor herself. Consequently, in 2010 Laura began her counselling training and, in April 2012, started working as a full-time Living Room Counsellor with special responsibility for problem drug users. In May of this year Laura achieved her Master’s Degree in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy from the University of Hertfordshire.
Laura says, “Counselling and helping others is the only thing that I’ve ever been intuitively good at and becoming a counsellor has greatly fulfilled me. The Living Room has saved my life and given me chances beyond my wildest dreams, it is a privilege and a pleasure to work here.”
Janis Feely, our Founder and CEO says, “I am delighted that Laura has enabled us to achieve these awards. Laura has worked extremely hard in her recovery and undertakes amazing work with our clients. She is a great role model and has always been a hero to us.”
Lloyds Bank Foundation created their Charity Achievement Awards to recognise the amazing, life changing work of small and medium sized charities.
October 2015: The Living Room receives an official endorsement from Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
December 2015: The Living Room receives the Hertfordshire Excellence in Public Health Award 2015.