Renfrewshire Council

Councillor Jacqueline Cameron: Renfrewshire Commission will explore new ways of tackling alcohol and drug use

This blog is by councillor Jacqueline Cameron, chair of Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership's Alcohol and Drugs Commission.

The Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership is taking a fresh approach to the challenges posed by alcohol and drug use across Renfrewshire by setting up a dedicated Commission to explore new ways of tackling the issue - not only for individuals but also for the families affected.

The Commission follows on from the approach in 2014, when the partnership's Tackling Poverty Commission, reported on a series of recommendations to tackle poverty and reduce the inequality gap and which are now embedded within the day-to-day work of the council.

I'm very proud to be Chair of the Commission and I attended the first public meeting on 25 June.

What's clear from the meeting is that it's essential for us to start by identifying the people who are most in need of our help.

We have the resources around the table to improve our ability to identify these people but there are practical steps that we need to take to move forward in the way we want to and need to.

We know that if we want to make a difference we will have to do things differently. By working together, we can look at what more we can do to focus on prevention and recovery, putting the needs of the individual at the heart of our approach, rather than focusing on specific services.

It's essential that we look at what we currently provide: the services in place for people in most need at the moment and how they work together. We know that services exist but it's vital that we look at how they're all linking up to provide support.  

We also have to balance this with what we WANT to provide. Are we doing enough? What else can we do to help? We will have to think imaginatively and creatively about the approaches we take going forward.

A section of the meeting focused on the importance of 'stickiness' of services - the requirement for a consistent programme of support which creates a good relationship between the individual and support staff, and provides consistency. I think this will be fundamental in our research.  

At the heart of it all will be hearing the real-life stories of those affected. To get a true picture of what's going on in Renfrewshire, we need to hear from people who have first-hand experience of the negative impact of alcohol and drug use. I recently visited the Sunshine Recovery Café and got the chance to talk to people who are in recovery from addiction and hear their views.

It's clear that we have a lot to discuss and to work on but I'm confident that the Commission will take some very important steps in identifying how we can help tackle the issues created by drug and alcohol use in our communities.

Published: 28 June 2019