Taskforce supports digital inclusion project

10 August, 2021

The Taskforce has confirmed that it will participate with partners in 2 year project to explore the potential of digital - via pre-loaded smartphones, tablets and lap-tops - to support people at high risk of overdose and reduce their risk of drug related harm. The project will focus on both the use, practice and distribution of digital devices, and the development of the services the devices will connect to.

Catriona Matheson, Taskforce Chair commented, 'There is clear evidence basic interventions like connecting people through a mobile phone can support them and potentially save lives.  The digital inclusion and solution project will provide this support and evaluate the impact.'

The high level aims of the project include: by 2023, a range of digital solutions and re-designed services that meet the needs of people with multiple and complex needs at increased risk of drug related harm being available and being adopted. 

  1. People have greater access to digital solutions that keep them safe and that enable them to become and remain connected to family, friends and relevant services that support them.
  2. The services that support these citizens have the digital means to develop and strengthen the support they provide, and staff that are skillful in using and developing digital solutions to enable those they support.
  3. The sector is digitally connected and collaborating, developing joined-up services and exploring innovative solutions together.

Testimonials and anecdotal evidence.

The Taskforce's networks have highlighted the potential of digital to help save lives through case studies and testimonials such as these below. 

Further information on the progress of the project will be available as it develops.

(Please note that people’s names have been changed to protect their identity but all those who contributed are happy to be contacted to discuss further if required.)

Jenny


I have been involved with Forth Valley Recovery Community for about 3 years. I was trapped in addiction to the point I overdosed during the beginning of lockdown. The day I got out of Forth Valley Royal Hospital after my drug overdose a staff member from the Recovery Community came to my house with a phone as I didn’t have access to a smart phone due to my drug use. The phone was set up with Forth Valley Recovery Community meeting links and I was in a meeting that very minute. I’m now 15 months drug free. That phone saved my life. I would never have been able to access meetings without it and get the help and support I needed from the community. The community meetings taught me a way out. The love and support from the amazing staff and community members was crucial, and when I look back I worry what would have happened if I never had the phone, it scares me actually. The community has done so much for me, they never judged me, they cared and showed compassion and empathy they truly are a beautiful bunch of people. I feel blessed to have volunteered since I was 90 days drug free and about my 1 year drug free I was offered a job with the community which blows me away! From someone just overdosed to someone with a job and a year free from active addiction. That phone saved me and shined a light in the dark. Without it I wouldn't be where am at today.

I've very grateful to the community and will be forever. I have my life back my family back and now I can care for people and share my experience with them.

 

Dan

I got a Chrome Book through the Connecting Scotland scheme. When I first got help from my local recovery community in North Lanarkshire I was needing support for all sorts of things. I was having trouble at work and suffering with mental illness. Getting the Chrome Book helped me get on Zoom meetings to access the recovery support and later for things like Psychological Services ER group. Today (18 months later) I use it to take part in training, access courses and webinars and get on the same Zoom meetings as a volunteer. I chair meetings and am involved in the running of the community and helping others. If I hadn’t had the opportunity I would have lost out on the connection with those who have been in the same position as me. I would have lost out on the knowledge and understanding I have gained into my own addiction. It helped me so it will help others.

 

Robbie

Robbie was referred to the recovery community by his social worker. He had been put into homeless accommodation after splitting up with his partner. He has a history of poly substance use including alcohol. At this time Robbie was struggling to manage his life and had no gate-keeping skills so often allowed local people into his flat, drinking and causing problems. They often beat Robbie and threw him out of his own flat. These incidents were usually noted as anti social behaviour on Robbie’s part, as it caused difficulties for the neighbours and disruption happened at his property. He was given the loan of a phone by North Lanarkshire Recovery Community (NLRC) and practical help was offered to support him to attend on-line meetings or just to arrange to meet up for a walk. Workers were not aware of the extent of the bullying despite the phone going missing on a couple of occasions. Eventually Robbie was so badly beaten that he was rushed to hospital, unconscious, with bleeding on the brain, after someone stamped on his head. He held onto his phone, however, and was able to contact workers to let them know where he was, once he came round. At this point, NLRC advocated on Robbie’s behalf and services came together to provide a safe place for Robbie to stay. He continued to access on-line meetings and was supported to apply for rehab. To show motivation you have to phone the centre every day, Robbie did this on the phone provided. As part of a social media group he received daily support to keep him on track and peer-supporters and new friends connected with him on a daily basis. On the day he entered rehab he handed back his phone to be utilised by someone else within the community. Robbie is now 9 months clean. He is unrecognisable from the thin, unkempt man that entered the facility. He continues to connect with community members and staff, is a mentor to new patients within the facility he is in, and plans to volunteer for NLRC when the time is right. He is currently working on his literacy skills. There is no doubt that without access to a mobile phone things could have turned out very differently for Robbie.