During 2014 our Director, Andy Perkins, was interviewed by the Best of Dundee and Angus’ Marketing Assistant, Natalie Cook for a blog she hosts on www.thebestof.co.uk/local/dundee-and-angus. Here is the third and final installment of that interview.
NATALIE: Tell me about a defining moment in your career
ANDY: This takes me right back to the start of my career, getting my job working in the rehab centres. The charity I worked for at the time, put together a promotional video. Within this video, a woman narrated her journey through drug dependence, to getting help and eventually getting back on her feet. The way this was set up in the video was very powerful, there was a large table and on the table was an array of jigsaw puzzle pieces. You couldn’t make any sense of what the jigsaw was, it was all muddled up. The video started with this lady at rock bottom, at the depths of her drug taking. Each time the table appeared, you would see her hand reach in and pull another piece of jigsaw out. She started with the corner pieces, then the side pieces and finally the middle pieces. The video ended with poems of thanks and gratitude she felt towards those who had helped her. The final picture, the completed jigsaw image, depicted her. It was symbolic of the fact that she was whole again. There were a couple of things which subsequently stuck with me after that video aired, which have shaped the work I do, over the last 20 years. In fact, I learn from that story all the time. Here are a few things which struck me. The first was, whose hand was reaching into the jigsaw puzzle, it was hers not mine or anyone else’s. Secondly, all the pieces of the jigsaw were there. What she was crying out for was help to put the pieces together. Now, I relate this part to my daughter Abi when she was younger. Whenever we would sit down to do a jigsaw puzzle, I can guarantee that within 30 seconds of me helping to piece it together, she was away doing something else. It occurred to me at that point, that this is what we do to people. Individuals walk in with their broken jigsaw puzzles (lives) and we try to help by piecing it together. I learnt that instead, all I need to do to help someone is assist them in identifying the corner pieces of the puzzle that is their life. Once these are identified, the rest follows. This realisation marked a defining point in my career.
NATALIE: I guess in some way, we’re all trying to connect the fragmented puzzle pieces which form various facets of our lives.
NATALIE: If you were Prime Minister, what changes would you implement to ensure that individuals with substance misuse problems get the help they deserve?
ANDY: There’s so much I would do Natalie. However, I guess if I had to make one change it would be this. I would change the entire approach to the way in which support services are labelled. No more pigeon holing. Instead of having a service department for substance misuse, one for homelessness, one for offenders etc. I would take a blanket approach and offer a service to individuals in vulnerable situations, because drugs, alcohol etc. are never the problem. It is the life issues, which ignite these dependencies and make us vulnerable, which are of greater concern.