3-9 John Finnie St, Kilmarnock KA1 1BL

Alison Crocket – Head, Whole Systems Unit, Drug Policy Division Scottish Goverment

I am writing to give my impressions of EACH Recovery Matters. I recently returned to Scotland after a long absence, and was very curious to see how drug services in East Ayrshire were faring, having worked with people who use drugs there a long time ago and have returned to work for the Scottish Government in Drug Policy Division.

The difference between then and now is seismic. From conversations with colleagues leading the ADP  and other service providers, it is clear that real progress has been made in collaborative working in the area, providing a whole spectrum of services from very low threshold to ongoing support in recovery. In addition, a holistic approach is sought to ensure that people who use drugs can find support for not just their drug use but also other pressing needs.

A key part of this is clearly the EACH Recovery Matters.  I was very impressed that the hub is located right in the centre of Kilmarnock, and declares itself boldly, which I believe is critical in challenging the prejudice and stigma that people who use drugs so frequently suffer. Inside is bright and cheerful and welcoming, creating a great environment which immediately sends the signal to anyone entering that they are valued and cared for. It also declares to the local community that people who use drugs are a part of their community and that their care and support is everyone’s issue.

I attended the first birthday of the Hub earlier this year and was delighted to see the extent to which the Hub has become a central part of service provision in the area and the pride and delight that the Hub’s “Crew”  had in showing their service off was heart-warming. The focus on the whole range of recovery needs is palpable, building supportive relationships and acquiring transferable skills along the way. It was clear from the wide range of service providers and local leaders who also attended and spoke at the event,  the high regard that so many hold for the hub.

I have been engaged in drug service delivery and policy development for almost forty years and am absolutely persuaded of the critical nature of community based services if people are to find their way to a recovery that works for them. Drug use may be a health condition but it is not a medical condition that can be “treated” in a solely clinical environment. Forming and building supportive and caring relationships without judgement or impossible conditions imposed is critical and so much more impactful in many ways when forged with others who have also experienced a similar journey. The Hub I believe is not only providing this service it is also providing the catalyst that brings services together to collaborate and co-ordinate more effectively around service user needs, which can only be a good thing for people at all parts of their recovery journeys.

I know that Steph McCutcheon, who leads the Hub has even greater ambitions for what the Hub can achieve with more support and I would be delighted if he can bring them to fruition. There is still so much to do to help the most vulnerable and I hope that they find the resources they need to build on the amazing work they are already doing.