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Local churches are at the heart of lasting recovery for addicts, says Christian charity boss

by Donna Birrell

A Christian charity which works with local churches to support people struggling with addiction has been awarded £150,000 from the Benefact Trust.

Street Connect aims to help people break free from addiction by restoring connection with their communities. It’s using the money to set up more bases, to help people be part of a supportive network.

It comes as figures released this week show that the number of people who died from drugs in Scotland last year fell to the lowest level for five years.

Scotland continues to have the worst narcotic death rate in Europe.

Street Connect’s co-founder and CEO Ricky McAddock has been speaking to Premier about the charity’s work:

“Part of our ethos is we go where people are. That includes going out onto the streets of the communities to... start to build relationships, make these connections. We also run drop-in cafes, where we can start to further build those relationships and hopefully help them get the support they need. We also run addiction support services, which is either community based recovery support, or preparing people for residential rehab. We also have some flats at the aftercare stage, for people resettling back into the community. So we support people as long as they need us.”

The first two projects have already opened in Glasgow, and it’s hoped that over the next three years there will be around 30 Street Connect bases in local churches across the UK.

Ricky McAddock said the church has a vital role to play in aiding recovery from addiction:

“I strongly believe the local church has a key part to play in bringing these numbers down.

“True transformation comes when people come to faith in Jesus. We’ve seen people can progress and they can get off drugs and alcohol. But the real life transformation that we've seen, and people that we reach out to and support are those that have gone on to enter into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

“People living in the most deprived areas are 16 times more likely to die from drugs than someone in the least deprived areas. So we know that it's in these areas where most of the drug deaths are happening. We know that churches are embedded in these communities.

“We’ve seen so many people come to faith. One man was on methadone for four years through the care system. He lost his partner to drugs and then he engaged with a church. He got baptised and started connecting with us. He went on to get married and became a drugs worker in a local GP surgery, then went on to work with a homeless charity. He wants to give support in the way that he received support.

“For us, the local church is at the heart of all we do, because someone once said that the opposite of addiction isn't sobriety, it's connection and establishing these strong connections in no better place than a loving church.”


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