‘It’s time for me to step down’ – Founder of addiction rehab centre in Stevenage set to retire

Janis Feely is taking a well-earned rest 16 years after founding The Living Room.

Janis Feely is taking a well-earned rest 16 years after founding The Living Room. - Credit: Archant

The founder of an award-winning addiction rehabilitation centre is retiring after 16 years at the helm.

Janis Feely opened The Living Room at The Glebe on Chells Way in Stevenage in May 2000, after successfully overcoming her own addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.

She became an alcoholic in the 1980s after struggling to raise two young children in an unhappy marriage.

She lost custody of her children but managed to win them back after beating her addiction.

She vowed to help others recover from the devastating effects of addiction and, after working in the field for 14 years, founded The Living Room in Stevenage before opening a centre in St Albans in 2012.

The Living Room supports people with addictions to anything from alcohol and drugs to gambling and sex. As well as counselling, The Living Room helps clients through creative writing, art therapy, drama groups and even equine therapy.

Each year, 60 to 70 per cent of addicts who engage in the services – that’s about 120 people –achieve abstinence recovery. More than 40 children in care have returned to their parents.

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Janis said: “I’m stepping down as chief executive and semi-retiring. The plan is to work two days a week in women’s refuges. I want to get it understood how big a problem love addiction is. People go back into abusive relationships time and time again and there has to be love addiction there.”

Janis has won many awards, most notably an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List.

She said: “I had been thinking about retiring for a year. I will be 70 next year and my husband officially retires in July this year.

“I wanted to know The Living Room’s in good hands before something happens to me. I have given 16 years of my life to the charity. It’s time for me to step down and have some ‘me time’.”

Janis is looking forward to spending more time with family and friends.

The charity will continue under new CEO Karyn Jones, who takes over on July 31.

A retirement ball will be held for Janis on July 9 at the Ibis on Stevenage’s Danestrete. The event is open to everyone and tickets, at £50, can be purchased by calling The Living Room on 01438 355649.