The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today heard compelling testimony from drug addicts who are helping save the lives of those who have overdosed.
During a visit to Turning Point Scotland’s centre in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Prince William and Kate heard how the special response teams – including front line workers and existing users - form part of the vital network to help rebuild the lives.
The couple heard how Martin, 44, helped set up GORT - Turning Point Scotland’s ground-breaking Glasgow Overdose Response Team – after the death of two of his close friends.
He told them how the streets had been flooded by drugs more powerful than they had seen before.
Neil Richardson, Chief Executive, Turning Point Scotland, said: “People were using pill presses, that were creating all sorts of cocktails of horribleness and people were dying as a result. There were various episodes where you see spikes in deaths.”
The organisation provides to those facing complex and challenging situations, including homelessness, mental ill health and substance abuse, and the work they are carrying out to break down cycles of crime and addiction.
William and Kate, who wore a royal blue Zara blazer and skirt by Hope, were told drug related deaths were being combatted by the organisation providing real-time crisis support for people who have experienced a near fatal overdose from front line workers and recovering addicts.
Funded by, and developed in partnership with the Drug Deaths Taskforce, the service began operating in December 2020 and has quickly delivered highly promising early results, leading to a planned fast-tracked rollout of services to other regions in Scotland.
Speaking to recovering users William said the key turning point often comes with “somebody else taking actual proper interest in your life.”
He went on: “Of course, so many times people come and go don’t they when you’re looking for help, and you get sent to God knows how many different organizations, and you get passed to the next one. “ He praised the organisation for helping save the users with a “big net in one go”.
Turning Point Scotland (TPS) is Scotland’s leading social care service developer and provider.
Established in 1999, TPS works to tailor its services to the individual’s needs and seeks to create pathways for the people it supports to become active citizens in their community.
William and Kate also spoke with individuals supported by its Turnaround service. Turnaround delivers targeted programmes to address the complex and interrelated issues of offending behaviours and problematic use of alcohol and other drugs, which often result in patterns of re-offending.
By delivering services such as Turnaround, TPS is working to halt these cycles and address fundamental issues in order to ensure that its beneficiaries are able to live mentally healthy and happy lives.
Over the past ten years, through her official engagements and charitable work, The Duchess of Cambridge has gained an understanding that the root causes of adverse challenges, including addiction, can very often be traced back to the earliest years of a person’s life, and have an impact over generations.
This has shaped much of The Duchess’ ongoing work on early childhood through The Royal Foundation.
The pair also visited an an anti-violence project outside Edinburgh. The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU) in Cockenzie, a joint project backed by the police and the Scottish government which tries to tackle the root causes of violence.
The Duchess of Cambridge tried her hand at being a being a music producer – only to receive a scathing review from the duke.
As she started making a beat on a looping pad in the music studio , William said: “I could spend hours in here doing stuff. It’s quite addictive, isn’t it? Creating more and more.”
However he soon changed his mind. As the beats built up, William laughed and said: “What’s that? It sounded like a cat… It might catch on – in about a hundred years’ time!”
After a few moments more, William pleaded for it to stop. “It’s hurting my ears!”
At the unit they saw young people doing martial arts, music production and bicycle maintenance, organised by Heavy Sound, a community organisation founded by a campaigner who spend 12 years of his life as a homeless addict.