Sturgeon and Ross to make joint visit to drugs support group

First Minister will visit Bluevale Community Club in Glasgow along with Scottish Conservative leader.

Sturgeon and Ross to make joint visit to drugs support group STV News
Visit was arranged following exchanges at Holyrood.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross will make a joint visit to a drugs recovery group.

The visit to Bluevale Community Club in Glasgow on November 22 comes after exchanges between the SNP and Tory leaders at Holyrood last month.

Kenny Trainer, the club’s founder, insisted the visit by the two politician must be a “turning point” and “can’t be a one-off photo op”.

He spoke out as it was confirmed that Sturgeon and Ross will visit the group along with drugs minister Angela Constance.

Sturgeon challenged the Conservative leader to visit a working-class area with her in the wake of the UK Government’s £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit, with Ross agreeing to this – but also suggesting they visit the Bluevale Community Club in Glasgow’s Haghill area as he pushed for more action to tackle Scotland’s drugs problem.

Scottish Conservatives confirmed the visit to the centre, which has operated a drugs recovery group since mid-2021, will go ahead later this month.

Trainer said communities like his have “not yet seen the benefits of what Scotland’s politicians promised would be delivered on the ground, nor the support that our communities need”.

He added: “People in places like Haghill are mostly left to come up with solutions on our own.

“That’s why we started Bluevale Community Club. It’s a place run by local people for local people, so they get access to the support and services they need.”

Trainer continued: “A visit with the First Minister and opposition leader to a club like ours doesn’t happen often. But this can’t be a one-off photo op.

“This meeting has to be above party politics. It has to be a turning point that delivers a firm commitment towards changing things for the better.”

While he said his group has recently received some funding for its work, he added that “this is a drop in the ocean to what we need to continue to provide all of the services we offer”.

Stephen Wishart, a volunteer at the community club, said: “Bluevale does incredible work to give people mental and physical health services that they can’t access anywhere else.

“But groups like Bluevale are struggling to even exist at the moment. Many are run voluntarily with little to no money from the Government or council.

“There are enormous funding gaps in these community, recovery and addiction services in Scotland that need to be tackled.”

He added that the Right to Recovery Bill, being proposed by the Scottish Tories, would “cut through the current addiction system and mean places like Bluevale Community Club will get the right funding to help even more people”.

Meanwhile, Ross said: “Bluevale is a perfect example of the kind of grassroots community project we should be throwing financial support behind across Scotland.

“These essential locally-run services can’t be left to fill in the gaps in Scotland’s system on their own.”

The Tory leader added: “Frontline experts back the Right to Recovery Bill because it would guarantee that everyone gets access to the treatment services they need to get their lives back on track, and whole system programmes like Bluevale would get the support they deserve to help people in our communities.

“We hope this visit can be a watershed moment that secures the Government’s support for our Right to Recovery Bill, but we will consider other solutions that the Government brings to the table too.”