About Us

Discover more about our history, our people, how we work and what makes us tick

We succeed because of you

– You can’t understand until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes –


That’s why we listen and adapt according to the lived experience of our service users.

We design and deliver services collaboratively – so people who have made use of our support are able to actively input to all levels of the organisation from local hub improvement meetings right through to committee and trustee meetings.

Today you can see many examples of this co-production approach – they include this very website, the welcome you receive in each hub and the Recovery Fund, that helps people in active recovery receive small grants to pursue new hobbies and activities.

In 1984, when Exeter Drugs Project (EDP) was first launched, stigma and fear around drug use and HIV was rife.  Despite this, no services existed to help people turn their lives around and attempt recovery.

Our story began when a group of drug users and their families teamed up with a visionary nurse to bid for a government grant to start a brand new support service in Exeter.

EDP was one of the first places in the country to provide an open access needle exchange facility – a service now provided in every drug and alcohol treatment facility in the United Kingdom.

We’ve changed a lot since then but our work remains rooted in the values our founders instilled in us: belief, respect, partnership and ambition.  We’ve expanded from Exeter, out into the rest of Devon and Dorset, offering a specialist substance misuse service in communities, streets and criminal justice settings.

In 2020, EDP joined Humankind, taking our place in a national family of organisations offering support for people with multiple disadvantage.  As a group we join others nationwide in our commitment to reducing deprivation and exclusion and improving people’s wellbeing.

On 1 July 2023 EDP merged fully into its parent charity to become the new Humankind South West operational region. The two community drug and alcohol support services in the South West, ‘REACH’ and ‘Together’ continue to deliver high quality support with the same leadership, operational arrangements and local identities and brands. All other services run by EDP have continued as part of Humankind’s South West region. 

Last year we helped well over 9000 people make positive changes to get their lives back on track. 

We know it can be really hard to make the first step, so we’ll put you at your ease, treat you with respect, listen to you and understand what you want and need for your recovery.  We go at your pace and won’t ask you to do anything you aren’t ready to do.  

We’ll work with you to build a plan and you’ll have clear goals and timelines that reflect your individual circumstances. You’ll be supported and helped by a team of people that includes staff, volunteers, peer mentors and people with lived experience just like you. 

Our People

Meet some of our volunteers & mentors

But we see people with lived experience as our most crucial partners to success.  Nearly half our staff have personally walked this journey – either alongside a close friend or family or in their own recovery.

Here are some of our lived experience volunteers who play critical roles in the design, implementation and improvement of our service.

Lee, Peer Mentor

"At my lowest point, I was hiding alcohol at home and drinking at work too.  I lost my wife, my home and my job before finding EDP and managing to successfully detox.  Now I'm a peer mentor, helping others through their own recovery journeys.  I have a home, food in the fridge and have started seeing my son again.  I understand myself better now, and in talking with other service users, their recovery helps me with mine."

John, ex Volunteer

Back then my life was very chaotic. I was homeless and used drugs. Since getting support from EDP I’ve successfully been treated for Hep C, got a home of my own and got my life back on an even keel. I now work as a Support Worker, but I was a volunteer, a trainee Recovery Coach and I was a volunteer marketing assistant. I love working on the front desk, making EDP a friendly and welcoming place to come. We want everyone who walks through the door to know that we’ve got their back, we know what it’s like for them and we’re here to help them become the people they want to be.
- John is now a member of staff -

Lucy, ex Volunteer

“Addiction is a terrible, isolating, frightening place to be but addiction doesn’t have to be a life sentence. I’m a recovering alcoholic and we see countless people flourish and pull themselves out of addiction. It’s the ones who keep coming back and keep fighting the addiction who get free of it. It’s the volunteers and peer mentors like me who have ‘seen and been it’ who show that recovery is possible. I’m now studying to be an addictions counsellor and I volunteer in EDP Reach.
- Lucy is now a member of staff -


Our trustees are responsible for the overall management of Humankind, its strategic direction and decision making. Trustees bring a wealth of professional skills and experience to the leadership team. All Trustees volunteer their time and play an active role in meeting and listening to teams and people who use our services.