A Birmingham charity that helps more than 300 people beat their addiction with drink and drugs every year has announced high-profile backing for its activity.

Changes UK, which launched the £1m Recovery Central project in Digbeth last year, has kick-started a new fundraising drive by revealing Russell Brand as its official patron for 2017.

The comedian and actor has pledged to raise the organisation’s profile through social media and by appearing at three events over the next twelve months.

This will support the charity in raising funding to launch an additional CQC-registered detox facility in Birmingham, capable of helping over 100 people every year.

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“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Russell into the Changes team,” explained Steve Dixon who founded Changes UK in 2007 after beating his own 15-year addiction.

“I first met him at an event two years ago and he seemed genuinely interested in our different approach to tackling addition…by giving people aspirations, skills and the training they need to stay clean whilst going through recovery.”

He continued: “He turned up as a surprise guest at our Recovery Central launch in May and spoke to service users and other delegates about his own experiences and how he faced his own struggles.

“During the tour of the centre he agreed to be our first official patron, but even I have been surprised by his level of commitment. He’s regularly on the phone talking to me about our plans and we’ve both come up with some exciting ideas for fundraising in 2017.”

The launch event takes place on December 10th, with Russell Brand hosting a special evening of reflection and entertainment at the Hilton Metropole.

‘Sobering Thoughts’ will see Changes UK’s new patron take guests through the stories of service users and their families, how they beat their addiction and the support they required to ‘recover’.

This will be followed by an evening of entertainment, including a number of comedians, music and spoken word by Steven Duncan, who is currently being supported by the charity.

The night will also be used to invite the West Midlands business community to support five important challenges through funding, mentoring and employee engagement.

Russell Brand commented: “Changes has a new and exciting approach to recovery which starts with getting people off drugs and ends with them becoming entrepreneurs. There will be less junkies in Birmingham and more Richard Bransons. Surely that’s a good thing?”

Employing 31 people, Changes UK provides a detox service, community-based rehabilitation, supported and move on housing and opportunities to gain accredited qualifications, volunteering and work experience.

Service users at the beginning of their recovery journey are supported 24-hours a day by qualified staff and specially trained volunteer peer mentors.

They also have access to the Recovery Academy, which, over an eight-week full time programme, begins to build the knowledge and skills they need in order to maintain recovery, build a personal recovery support network (including mutual aid groups) and learn to live life to the full.

Five out of the available ten tables have already been sold for ‘Sobering Thoughts’. To book your place/table, please email chantellmarler@changesuk.com.  More details on Changes UK, at www.changesuk.org by liking @changesuk on Facebook or following @changes_uk on Twitter.