Groundbreaking radio programme is on right frequency with homeless charity in Leeds

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Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics are taking to the airwaves in a groundbreaking link-up between BBC Radio Leeds and the St George’s Crypt homelessness charity.

Fifteen people receiving support from the Leeds-based charity’s Growing Rooms residential rehabilitation scheme were invited to participate in a series of interviewing and presenting masterclasses by Radio Leeds earlier this year.

Josh Warrington is interviewed for the Open Air programme.

Josh Warrington is interviewed for the Open Air programme.

The workshops have now led to an hour-long programme called Open Air, which is being broadcast tomorrow and sees the group speaking to a range of high-profile names as well as reflecting on their own stories.

Those interviewed include Leeds boxing champion Josh Warrington, Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke and Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan.

Growing Rooms participants Andy Holland and Martin Henderson also spoke to Alastair Campbell, who was press secretary for Tony Blair during his time in Downing Street.

Alastair said: “I really enjoyed talking to Andy and Martin. They had clearly done their research and asked really good questions about politics as well as about mental health and addiction.

“We are too quick to write people off when they get into trouble in life but this scheme and these two men show how learning new skills can help build confidence for those coping with addiction.

“It would be fantastic if someone like Andy or Martin could go on to make a career out of broadcasting or campaigning.”

Andy said: “It’s been an honour to work with the BBC. It’s something I never expected a year ago when I came into recovery.”

Open Air goes out on Radio Leeds at 2pm tomorrow and will be available online after the broadcast.

People from the Growing Rooms project will also be taking part in Liz Green’s Big Yorkshire Phone-In show on Radio Leeds from midday on Friday.