Dad of two Nick Conn was born and raised in Watford. Through his Instagram account and free YouTube therapy workshops, Nick spent lockdown supporting families who were struggling with addiction. It was Nick’s journey from addiction to recovery that led him to support others facing similar challenges:
“I didn’t have the roots in trauma that many people have. I went to a grammar school in Watford, and worked at a local hotel whilst applying for the Metropolitan Police. It was around this time that I found drugs. I suffered with low self-esteem and had undiagnosed ADHD, and I felt the drugs helped me. Straight away, I knew it was going to be a problem. I went to Berlin for work and things escalated to the point that I was homeless, owing money to all kinds of people.
“At that point I called my family and admitted how much trouble I was in. They were brilliant, told me to go to a local hotel, arranged a flight home for me and later, a rehabilitation place in Bognor Regis. It was difficult for them though, they didn’t have money to throw around and the only rehabilitation centre they’d heard of was The Priory. As I went through my recovery, I realised how many people are struggling to get help, and after building up relationships with the different centres, I set up Help4Addiction, a free service that offers guidance on addictions. We’ve helped over 3,500 people.
“Lockdown was hugely difficult for people and we had a 500% increase in calls and doubled our workforce. Perhaps it was secret drinking brought into the open, health anxiety or people losing their jobs. If they were using drugs or alcohol before lockdown, it escalated the problem. People would get in touch on my Instagram to ask for tips and advice, but I quickly realised I couldn’t help everyone, and that’s when I set up the YouTube therapy sessions, psychoeducational workshops focused on relapse prevention, especially for those that couldn’t afford or access rehabilitation.
“For me, being a dad was a big lifestyle change. My children were not the reason for going into recovery, but they are the reason for staying there. When my son Avery was born, I suffered from postnatal depression. It’s not something men admit to often, but when I got it out into the open I was able to get the help I needed. There’s a lot of male bravado which can make it difficult for men, and dads, to seek and get help.
“Dad in Recovery is my passion project, and a platform I can use to reach out and help dads, and others who are struggling. Identification is a huge thing, if you know someone has been through what you’re going through, it helps hugely. It’s really nice to get this recognition as part of the Watford Gift Card Father’s Day campaign. Watford has so much going on for families, great shops and restaurants. I’m just honoured that people feel comfortable enough to reach out to me to ask for help when they need it.”
The Watford Gift Card Father’s Day campaign asks residents in Watford to support local this Father’s Day, as part of a national Father’s Day campaign across the 60 plus Town and City Gift Card programmes in the UK and Ireland, which sees local dads receiving recognition for their efforts in the community and one dad receiving a £100 Town and City Gift Card.
Glen Hempenstall is from Watford BID and said: “The pandemic made us realise the importance of our communities, from our local businesses to the people that go above and beyond to help those in need and make our places special. We’re pleased to have this opportunity to thank Nick for his work in the community as part of our Father’s Day celebrations and a £50 Watford Gift Card to spend as he chooses.”
Watford’s Gift Card launched in February 2020 as part of Watford Business Improvement District’s (BID) efforts to support local businesses. Each card can be spent with numerous businesses in the town, from shops and leisure attractions to health, beauty and services, keeping money locked into the area and providing much needed support for local businesses.
Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex, the company which provides the technology for the Town and City Cards programmes and said the Watford Gift Card is the gift of choice for dads:
“Socks are always useful but after a long year of lockdown, we think dads might like something a little different for Father’s Day this year. The Watford Gift Card can be spent on a meal with the family, a trip to the pub, a haircut, in the Watford FC Club shop, or even on some new socks if that’s what dad really wants. Best of all though, buying a Watford Gift Card shows your support for where you live, helping local businesses to survive and thrive following the latest lockdown.”