Our People to Live Stronger & Longer

The secret to The Glen Centre’s success

Tucked away near The Chittaway Point Trail, surrounded by wide open spaces and trees is The Glen Centre. The only male specific Central Coast Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre. The Glen is proud to take clients from all over NSW and Australia to help them on their road to recovery to eventually return to their families and community as active members.

I was introduced to Chris who led me on the tour of the Centre, with all the staff greeting me with a smile. With every introduction to a staff member, a story followed of their battle with addiction and how they came to The Glen and just never left.

What I cannot capture in words is the atmosphere, the tranquility. Chris led me to an area overlooking the veggie patch and beach volleyball area. “Close your eyes and breathe deeply with me” he said. Beyond the sound of the clients mowing the lawns and the genuine laughter of staff and clients, all I heard was the wind blowing through the trees and the sounds of birds I couldn’t name.

As I opened my eyes, I saw a kookaburra sitting on the volleyball net pole.

“That’s Cyril watching over us” Chris said.

Cyril Hennessy started The Glen in the early 90’s and the story is that he continues to watch over the place and the clients even today.

Kookaburra sitting near the beach netball area.

As I continued the tour, there was a story tied to every section of The Glen.

“The Glen Boys will always be here when we need them” Chris explained.

The clients who have been admitted into The Glen contribute to its foundations by building the house the doctor works in during appointments, the cement on the walkways and even the gym where a banner is proudly hung, with the hand-prints of the clients that build the space. The clients become part of The Glen, and teachings of The Glen become part of them.

The gym built by the clients of The Glen.

As we continued with the tour, I was able to really understand the purpose of the Centre. You can see it in the eyes of every person I walked past.

“It’s the family” Chris explained.

Addiction can be a result of isolation and loneliness and here at The Glen you are welcomed by a family. The staff are a family and the clients become a part of the family, all looking out for each other and all supporting each other through the program.

We made our way to the famous yarning circle of the Glen where most of the activities take place.

“The yarning circle is the heartbeat of The Glen.” said Chris.

The yarning circle. The centre of The Glen.

When a new client arrives, they are inducted here. The celebrations, meetings and even group counselling sessions are all held here.

Chris explained the significance of the circle and how everyone in the circle has a voice, there is no hierarchy. Everyone is on equal footing within the yarning circle.

I was fortunate to meet a few of the clients, some who have been here for 1 year, others who have been here for a few weeks. I was able to sit in the yarning circle during an induction with clients who had just arrived a day or so before. One of the staff; Lenny explained in detail the program and a range of activities clients participate in from volleyball to running, to work and chores. The rules are  simple: Zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs and causing any trouble. Lenny also explained the support network that is available to the new clients, there was even a peer support person present who was familiar with the program and was in the process of transitioning back into society.

The beach volleyball court built by the clients of The Glen.

After the tour, I had a great chat with Alex. He talked about the Glen’s success and how it is centered around the five key ingredients:

  1. An aligned purpose. This flows from the Board to the staff and then in turn to the clients.
  2. Passionate people. Everyone I spoke to loved coming into work and loved the work that they were doing.
  3. The place. The Glen being situated in a tranquil location that provides the perfect location for clients to reassess and reevaluate.
  4. Process. The Glen has a team of 13 staff that work with 35 clients. The processes must work to ensure the longevity of the Centre.
  5. Strong partnerships. The Glen has built some great relationships with the local community and corporates who are strong advocates for their work.

The holistic approach to health here is evident with a strong emphasis on resetting an individual’s mind, body and spirit. While saying goodbye to this place, I asked a client who had been at the Centre for 10 months: If the person he is today could meet the person he was when he arrived, what would you say to him?

“I’d say to trust the process and trust the program. I’d say to not be so scared, there are people here who care about you and will make you a better person.”

Author: Isobel Marasigan

AH&MRC Communications Team