Turning Point Scotland Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre offers a safe, confidential service which will support and encourage people to find ways of making their substance misuse less problematic and to achieve a better quality of life.

Based in Tradeston, for 20 years the service has been providing a wide range of support to people with substance misuse issues in the city 24 hours a day and is still an integral part of the response to reducing the harm and public health risks associated with drug and alcohol misuse.

After establishing there were a significant number of individuals in the city centre that were not engaging with services, the Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre set up a community outreach team to try and reach them directly.

Wendy Spencer, Director of Operations at Turning Point Scotland spent a day on shift shadowing the assertive outreach team that was established to engage people who are injecting in public places in the “Square Mile”, the area of the city centre east of the M8 and Clydeside Expressway, north of the River Clyde and West of the Saltmarket/High St East.

Wendy said:

“It was soon evident that this was going to be a busy shift. At George Square we were stopped by Gus who was feeling desperate and Thomas was able to make a referral for him to Turning Point Scotland Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre. This was a major breakthrough after weeks of engagement. In the space of an hour we had made another referral, called the second team for three people who wanted needle exchange, given signposting information to someone just arrived from Manchester, rough sleeping, who  had significant mental health issues and provided support and reassurance to two people who were agitated and upset.

During the shift we also visited a couple of injecting sites which have not been cleared as they are not in close proximity to public access. I was concerned that people are reduced to having to inject in such conditions among discarded spoons, needles and broken glass.

Many of the people we met on the streets looked unwell and data collected by the team has highlighted some of the complications faced by those injecting outside. Abscesses and infections are common but during the course of the project there has been an outbreak of botulism and a marked rise in HIV and the team are actively raising awareness of the risks amongst the group as well as supporting individuals to access health services.

Part of my shift was spent shadowing Jackie, the nurse recently seconded to the project who spoke of her hopes to set up a clinic in a city centre pharmacy to enhance existing provision  by offering dressings and other health interventions.

Thomas and the team are clearly well known among those living on the streets in Glasgow. They have formed close and respectful relationships with this most vulnerable and hard to reach group and gained the trust of some of the most marginalised people in the city. This is a tribute to the approach of the team which is based on person centred principles, patience and perseverance. The team showed great understanding of the people living and working the streets of the Square Mile, moving between doorways and alleys knowing instinctively when to stop and engage with people or when to give an acknowledgment and move on.

When introduced to Sam he indicated that he wanted to speak to me. He said said “See this team, they are the best. They treat us right”.

I echo Sam’s sentiments and thank the team for giving me such a good insight into their work and this essential service.”

If you have concerns personally or are worried about a friend or family member, you can find more information on the support provided by the Glasgow Drug Crisis Centre on that section of the website.