Our story

WithYou is built on Mollie Craven's story. A powerful lived experience that forms the foundations of our work and our vision to this day.

An elderly woman with curly gray hair, wearing a blue patterned blouse, smiles as she writes on a whiteboard holding a red marker.

How it all began

Our founder Mollie Craven lost her son to heroin in 1967.

In an article in the Guardian that year, she stressed the need for parents and friends of those with issues with alcohol and drugs to come together, share research, and get the help they need.

We parents are a neglected and ignored group. I would like to appeal to everyone interested in this agonising problem to form an association. We can help each other, and, in many ways, we can help each other’s children where we cannot help our own. 

Mollie Craven, 1967

Helping one another

Mollie simply asked that we help one another - a single-minded mandate that formed the foundations of our work and sowed the seed for our vision: 

A future free from harm, suffering or deaths caused by poor mental health and drug and alcohol use, where anyone seeking help feels welcomed, not judged.

From a small local group to a national charity

We started out as the Association for Parents of Addicts (APA), a small charity in Southeast England delivering drop-in services. Funded by donations and grants, we offered a safe, non-judgemental place to go for compassion, counselling, and a cuppa.

In time, that small local group became Addaction, a national charity covering England and Scotland. 

Adapting to a changing world 

Over the years, we’ve grown steadily to meet the needs of a changing world.

  • In 1997, recognising the link between trauma and issues with alcohol and drugs, we broadened our scope beyond adult services to a pioneering young person’s service supporting those with mental health challenges.
  • In 2005, we launched our family intervention service, ‘Breaking the Cycle’.
  • A decade later, in 2015 we merged with Keep a Child Alive (KCA), adding vital trauma-informed support across our services.
  • In 2017 we celebrated our 50th year and launched our veteran service, ‘Turn Right’. 

2020: a pivotal year 

In 2020, Addaction officially became WithYou, a name which truly speaks to who we are. A positive place where people can connect with each other over shared lived experiences, feel a sense of belonging and get the support they need to create a different life.

Today, we have 80 local services in England and Scotland, providing free and confidential support to over 100,000 people leach year.

We work online and face-to-face in communities, schools, and prisons to support both adults and young people with alcohol, drugs, and mental health issues, as well as their friends and family. 

We are WithYou

A man in a blue jacket standing in front of a colorful, geometric mural.

What recovery means to us 

For us, recovery means finding a new path towards a healthier life – one that is not ruled by dependence or poor mental health, with hope for the future and the self-belief to thrive.

It’s a journey, and no two journeys are the same.

We’re here to help people define their version of a successful recovery, supporting them in setting their own milestones and measuring progress together.

Whether it’s recapturing something lost or discovering something that never seemed possible, like fulfilling relationships, meaningful work or being part of a community, we help build those connections. 

With you at every step 

We’re here for everyone.

For the people that need our support, commissioners working on the design and delivery of our services, our team day-to-day, and the local and national services delivering our mission.

Together, we’re working to create a world where anyone who has drug, alcohol, or mental health challenges can get the support they need.

This is our story. One rooted in real-life experiences, driven by compassion and solidarity, and testament to our belief that by supporting one another, we can change our lives for the better.

Honouring Mollie’s wish 

But it’s not just down to us, we need your help too.

We’ve always worked to tackle the stigma around drug, alcohol and mental health challenges that create feelings of shame and isolation and, ultimately, stop people from getting help.

Like Mollie in 1967, we ask that you support each other by showing empathy and understanding to those who are struggling. Remember that the numbers you read about in the papers are real people – sons, daughters, parents, siblings, partners, and friends who have suffered or tragically lost their lives and left heartbroken families behind.