David Cuthbert

Carlisle House Substance Misuse Centre

Mission Reports

David Cuthbert is the Director of Carlisle House Substance Misuse Centre.

He trained as a Social Worker in Birmingham in England, and has worked in Carlisle House for the past 18 years. Although David continued his training and qualified as a Systemic Psychotherapist in 2010, he feels his greatest learning has been from encountering those who have passed through the Centre.

When he started out it was with the good intentions of helping others. However, the journey has given him more than he has been able to give to others. He describes how he is beginning to realise what it means to be compassionate, to be truly ‘passionate with’ the other person.

"This has had a huge influence on how we do our work, challenging any prejudice around holding onto pet theories and beliefs. It challenges the concept that we know best, that our values are somehow higher and ultimately it allows us the freedom to be what Christ wants us to be."

Carlisle House is a Treatment Centre for people who have Substance Misuse difficulties. It provides a six week residential rehabilitation programme, which is funded by the Health and Social Care Board. The majority of referrals come via the Community Addiction Teams in the Northern and Belfast Trust areas. A varied programme includes a range of psychological, creative, eco and complementary therapies. Our approach is a Systemic approach which, at its core, views the ‘problem’ within the context of relationships. The provision of a Safe Place for a 6-week time frame provides the opportunity for people to reflect on their relationships and the function alcohol or drugs plays within those relationships. It encourages people to take responsibility for the choices they have made and to begin to make more helpful choices.

Prayer Points

  • We would ask that you remember us as we continually seek to show God’s compassion, kindness and love to those we come into contact with.
  • Pray that we will be continually open to learning from others, not proud or arrogant in our beliefs and values but genuinely respecting those from different backgrounds and experiences.

Latest Report – October 2018

Providing a safe and welcoming place

Carlisle House is a residential substance treatment centre situated near the centre of Belfast. Our aim is to provide a safe, structured and therapeutic space for people who have alcohol and drug (including prescribed drugs) difficulties. People are referred to us by the community addiction teams from two health trusts (Belfast and Northern). We provide six places for each trust. The rehabilitation programme is residential and lasts between four and six weeks. We provide treatment for both genders over the age of 18 and around 100 people are admitted each year.

 At the core of what we do is a vibrant ethos of acceptance, respect and compassion. People who are referred come from every walk of life, background and every profession. However, they have one thing in common: they have often suffered similar rejection and contempt from society, their communities, friends, and at times, their families. It’s a common assumption that people who become dependent on substances wilfully engage in addictive behaviour. However, if we understood the complexities, the trauma and the loss for which the alcohol or drug becomes the solution, perhaps we would have a different view. 

So, how does Carlisle House help? We have developed an integrated systemic approach that informs the whole range of psychological and pharmacological therapies that we offer i.e. group, family, individual, art, eco and creative therapy. The core elements of this approach are based on the development of a safe and welcoming place. We don’t attribute blame, rather our aim is to provide the space for people to rediscover, celebrate and nurture who they are, and to expand their resilience and hope. Someone who recently went through the programme sent us this message: “It is my daughter’s birthday today, the last birthday I spent with her was three years ago. I didn’t think I would see another of her birthdays and yet here I am! I’m so happy!

Another person commented: “I can’t express enough what my stay in Carlisle House has done; it’s not only enhanced my life, but has given me the basis on which to begin rebuilding it. I was lost before I came here and this caring environment has helped me find myself. This irreplaceable service has saved my life.”  

Over the past 26 years over 3000 people have been referred. Many of these people have transformed their lives, and are now reconnected with family, work, and their own communities. Staff often comment that you cannot work in Carlisle House and stay the same. The greatest learning for all of us is perhaps that there are no simple answers. Things become less and less black and white. Love overcomes everything. 

We want to thank all of you who have joined with us, in your prayers, support and gifts, in creating a space for people to experience love, justice and healing. 

Please pray:

  • For the residents of Carlisle House and for transformation in their lives. 
  • For the staff of Carlisle House – that they would have wisdom, grace and compassion as they work with residents.
  • For David as he leads staff and oversees the work of the centre.

 To download a printable PDF of this bulletin visit the Mission Reports listing at the top.

Contact Details: Carlisle House
2-4 Henry Place
BT15 2BB

Tel: 028 9032 8308
Fax: 028 9043 4533

Email: dcuthbert@pcibsw.org


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