with Kerry Dixon

Kerry Dixon is the Lead Evangelist at the Dundee Centre of Mission, where there is a focus on addiction recovery and helping people who struggle with mental health issues. He runs a recovery group in Dundee called Pirate Monks, who meet weekly, have a meal, go through the 12 steps (used by Alcoholics Anonymous) and pray for one another. There is a group for women too.

Meet Kerry

“Our groups largely have a dual diagnosis of mental health and addiction. Those who come are the ones who find it hard to access help because they fall between stools. The mental health services say they can’t treat them because of their addictions, and the addiction services say they can’t treat them because of their mental health medications. Our groups help keep people stable and loved for who they are. If they’re having a psychotic episode or behaving strangely, we step in to help either practically or by trying to hear what’s happened. When the world rejects them because their behaviour is not understood, we love and accept them.

Most of their addiction is because of trauma. One of the women who comes to us is a drug addict and sex worker. She had children taken off her. She was getting on track, doing better, was in a new relationship and then got pregnant. We were supporting her and helping her get ready for the baby, but sadly her baby was taken away. The trauma caused her to jump off a 13-storey building. Her pain was relentless.

We have a lot of death in our community. The guys in the recovery group dig the plot in our churchyard, carry the coffin, and we read a liturgy we use for Pirate Monks as we lay the coffin. We honour them in death. Perhaps that’s all we can do for them. We refuse to allow them to be defined by their addictions. They are people. Jesus calls us by name, so they’re not a statistic – they’re a person, and we celebrate their lives.”

Meet Gavin

Gavin goes to Pirate Monks regularly having struggled with mental health problems for 25 years. Pirate Monks has helped him and he is now helping others in their own struggles with addiction and mental health.

“When I first attended, I knew a couple of people, but it was new to me. Pirate Monks has helped me immensely in my faith journey and my mental health – giving me the confidence to become a mentor to others. I practice contemplative prayer in the form of meditation. This really helps, I encourage others at Pirate Monks to do it, as it is so helpful. The more we can discuss our problems, the easier it becomes. We pray for one another and we are all equal, even the minister is unique and equal – he just facilitates the group. We go there and relax and be ourselves and knowing we will be accepted.

I have made some friends through Pirate Monks, and it has helped me to understand that I am not alone – it is so welcoming. No matter what your background or where you are, you can come and be accepted because that’s what Christ does – he accepts and meets us where we are.

As I have learnt more about the bible and talk about faith with others at Pirate Monks, I feel like I have protection, and them praying and meditating means Christ is in the battle with them. There is a huge sense of belonging and that is so important. The church needs to be open to helping these people as Jesus does. When your faith manifests into a loving welcome to others, you become a vessel for God’s love.

Church Army being in Dundee has had such a positive impact on me. Christ wants to help people in this area, and CA is helping that happen. It’s been a hard battle, but God has been there through it.”

Prayer InFocus

  • Pray for the staff and volunteers of recovery groups, that God will bless them with wisdom and compassion.
  • Pray for all who come to recovery groups, that they will feel strengthened, encouraged, supported and valued.
  • Pay for people to have a better understanding of mental health and addiction problems, to be more patient and treat people with kindness.
  • Pray that all who suffer with addiction and mental health issues will feel God holding them through their problems and loving them unconditionally.
  • Pray for resources to be readily available to enable these vital recovery groups to continue.