Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross will come together in a rare move with plans to tackle Scotland’s drug problem to be announced in Glasgow’s east end.
The First Minister and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives will meet at the Bluevale Community Club which helps people with substance abuse issues in Glasgow on Monday morning.
The party leaders are meeting amid Scotland’s drugs death crisis which has claimed a suspected 722 people’s lives in the first six months of this year.
The organisation’s founder, Kenny Trainer, said he does not want the meeting to be just a photo opportunity.
“We welcome the visit by the First Minister and Douglas Ross to see first-hand not only what we are trying to achieve here at Bluevale Community Club but also meet the people who remind us daily why we do it,” he said.
“We have seen too many friends and family members die while seeking access to the help they needed and that’s why we back any rights-based approach when it comes to drug treatment – one based on holding decision makers to account where necessary.”
Mr Trainer said he wants all parties and both the Scottish and UK governments to put their differences aside and agree on how to tackle Scotland’s problems.
The charity provides fitness classes, nutrition, support classes for mental health and addictions, linking in with local nurseries, schools, clubs and organisations to make a wide support network within the community.
The First Minister will announce almost £100,000 in funding to help Bluevale continue providing its recovery and wellbeing services.
Sturgeon said: “The rights of individuals to access effective treatment and support underpins our national drugs strategy.
“But we know there is more to do to make these rights a reality which is why we launched the National Mission backed by an additional £250m over the next five years to improve and increase access to services for people affected by drug addiction – including an investment of £100m on residential rehabilitation.
“We are determined that every penny of that will make a difference to all those affected by this public health emergency.”
Bluevale is run with 24 volunteer staff members and four young employees funded through the Step-up programme which supports young people into employment as part of the Young Person’s Guarantee.
Monday’s meeting comes after Sturgeon challenged Ross to visit a working-class area with her in the wake of the UK Government’s £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit, with the Conservative leader agreeing but suggesting they visit the Bluevale Community Club in Glasgow’s Haghill.
Ross called on the First Minister to back the Scottish Conservatives’ Right to Recovery Bill.
It seeks to enshrine in law the right to addiction and recovery services, including short and long-term residential rehabilitation.
“Scotland’s drug death crisis is our national shame,” Ross said, “It demands political leadership.
“Communities scarred by drugs need action, not more empty words. This visit must result in solutions, not more of the same.
“Frontline experts and families who have lost loved ones back our Right to Recovery Bill. We need the government to come onboard.
“Our Bill would cut through the broken treatment system and guarantee people can get the help they need. It would mean more support for frontline community projects like Bluevale, who have helped hundreds of people without any government funding.”
Last week, Ross said he will not stand in the way of a pilot scheme on drug consumption rooms.
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