Today, (Friday 8th September) The Salvation Army and the University of Stirling unveiled an exciting new partnership to undertake interdisciplinary research on substance use and related interventions that can prevent problems and reduce harms for individuals, their families and communities.
The Salvation Army has been concerned for some time about the impact that substance use and its effects, have on the fabric of society in Scotland.
In 2013, the Salvation Army introduced the ‘Scotland Drug & Alcohol Strategy’, a strategic plan to increase social outreach provision in local communities, by placing specialised drug and alcohol support workers in key locations, Greenock, Falkirk, Aberdeen and Stirling. This strategic plan is now moving into Phase Three, which will establish ‘The Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research’ based at the University of Stirling.
The Salvation Army’s Secretary for Scotland, Lt Col Carol Bailey, explained,
“As a church and charity, The Salvation Army has a proven track record of evidence based social programmes through our work with vulnerable people experiencing homelessness. This research partnership will take our strategy in Scotland a step further by drawing on the experience of Professor Alison Bowes and her team to take us on a new journey with the vision that we can provide a strong voice on intervention strategies to protect health, families and futures.”
Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Stirling said,
“We are delighted that this innovative partnership has come to fruition in the form of our new Centre. The new team are dedicated to producing ground-breaking research and evidence syntheses that investigate the intersections between substance use, homelessness, and wider health and social problems. They are committed to disseminating their work widely including through policy briefings, online media, and new educational programmes for those working in The Salvation Army and beyond.”
The collaborative working between The Salvation Army and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Stirling will be led by Dr Tessa Parkes, Centre Director and the current Centre team, which includes Dr Hannah Carver, Knowledge Exchange Fellow, Dr Maria Fotopoulou, Lecturer in Criminology and Marcus Cusack Knowledge Exchange Assistant.
The Salvation Army’s Director of Homelessness Services, Mr Mitch Menagh said,
“We have a fighting spirit to reach the whole person, even when they don’t believe in themselves anymore; the central aim of our recovery model is harm reduction through community support. The Salvation Army’s unique position to create evidence based research that will not only demonstrate the value of our community intervention programme, it will also create a pathway of education and training to ensure that we stay ahead of the curve in this vital area of service provision.”