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Church's candlelight march highlights calls for change in drugs policy

by Tola Mbakwe

The Church of Scotland said the memorial at Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow is a stark reminder of the toll that substances continue to take on families and communities.

Statistics show that there were 1,187 drugs related deaths in Scotland in 2018, up 27 per cent on the previous year. The death rate is higher than any other EU country.

The handmade crosses, which are around 7 inches tall, were made by former addicts in recovery and were planted Friday morning ahead of a candlelight march through the streets of Springburn to remember all those who tragically lost their lives.

Around 300 people, including elected politicians and those campaigning for seats in the House of Commons, are expected to take part along with public sector workers and representatives from Police Scotland.

Rev Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church, said drug addiction must be treated as a public health emergency.

He revealed that around a third of the 500 funerals he has conducted over the last five years were drugs related.

Rev Casey, a former police officer, said: "The time has come to break the stigma that drugs related deaths are always self-inflicted.

"Addiction can affect anyone and most families will have experience of it.

"The walk will show that we all want change and improvement that leads to a drop in drug deaths and more understanding and facilities to help those who are living with addiction."

The wooden cross memorial is part of a day of action organised by Springburn Parish Church and Favor UK, a charity that supports people with drug addiction and campaigns for change.

It has published a report which contains 23 recommendations on how to improve the current drugs issue, which have been presented to the Scottish Government.

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