Thursday 8th February, MSPs and invited guests, including The Salvation Army’s new UK and Ireland leaders Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn Buckingham assembled in the Scottish Parliament’s Garden Lobby to hear about the impact of The Salvation Army Addictions Interventions work in communities across Scotland.
Salvation Army support workers and service users joined with research staff from the University of Stirling to share how a new partnership aims to enhance the effectiveness of the recovery programmes based in local Salvation Army centres.
Acting as sponsor for the reception, MSP Jeremy Balfour said,
“It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Scottish Parliament; this is your parliament we are here to serve you. It has been a great evening for us to learn about the impact of your drug and alcohol work in communities around Scotland. We would encourage The Salvation Army in whatever you do, do it with all your heart for all of us and we pray and hope that you inspire others as you seek and serve God.”
Throughout its history, The Salvation Army has been concerned about the impact that substance misuse and its effects have on individual lives, and the growing impact on the fabric of society in Scotland.
Mitch Menagh, UK Territorial Director of Homelessness Services explained,
“The Salvation Army is first and foremost a Christian church and we must never ever lose sight of that and that is what drives us in everything we do. People are at the heart of everything we do, they are our driving force – we care for people who are vulnerable and living chaotic lives, damaged and broken people often mis-judged by society. We have a desire to go and do something to help people on the margins of society, Scotland Drug and Alcohol Strategy was born out of that desire, and we are now seeing the social impact of our strategy. We look for to continuing this work that will be good for individuals and families in Scotland.”
Launched in 2013, the ‘Scotland Drug & Alcohol Strategy’, is 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. The latest phase of this plan saw the establishment in early 2017 of ‘The Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research’ based at the University of Stirling. A team of specialist at the University will undertake interdisciplinary research on substance use and related interventions that can prevent problems and reduce harms for individuals, their families and communities.
Speaking on behalf of the University, Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science said,
“We value this partnership; we share many values with The Salvation Army. Stirling University is committed to being an agent of change in the world, it’s concerned to connect people to innovate and to transform the lives of our students, our staff and also the global communities in which we serve, we are a very outward looking organisation as I know the Army is too. Our research will inform and support the improvements to transform people’s life chances.”
Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham and Lt Col Carol Bailey with Jeremy Balfour MSP
The Salvation Army’s Secretary for Scotland, Lt Col Carol Bailey, explained the motivation for the partnership,
“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.”
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.
Professor Alison Bowes, 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.”
Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham chats to Salvation Army staff
Summing up, The Salvation Army’s 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.”