22nd September issue

Talking Frankly

Shock, horror… humans behind the Home Office helpline!

Before talking to John, who works as an advisor on the FRANK helpline, I associated the government campaign with pushing red sofas around shopping centres. The chat enlightened me considerably about the very real and in-touch service behind the scenes, where experienced drug workers give non-judgemental advice and reassurance – whether it’s information about the effects of taking drugs, or calming down someone suffering withdrawal symptoms at 2am. It was interesting to hear about the interface with mainstream services. Having worked with addiction teams in Inverclyde and Glasgow, John is all too familiar with the pressures on local services and valued the chance to be part of a team that helps deal with the straightforward information that many callers seek. FRANK advisers do not get involved in treatment, but they do ‘signpost’ young people and their parents – a significant role in encouraging those who might not turn up at face-to-face services of their own volition, but who are fully versed in using mobile phones and websites.

We talk a lot about linking up and bridging gaps in this field, but our cover story takes the concept beyond a blueprint on the desk. Social workers are obvious partners for drug and alcohol workers, but it doesn’t always happen naturally. Just last issue we reported that social workers were asking their trade body for joint training with drug and alcohol agencies, because ‘social work has not had a good reputation in terms of working with people with substance problems’. On page 6, Edinburgh demonstrate how close partnerships with social workers are giving clients continuity of care and helping to peg in firmer long-term support – ‘doing wonders’ in the words of one of their service users.

Also looking beyond treatment, Jim McCartney gives clues to working towards self-sufficiency on page 14 – and for a snapshot of personal achievement, read ex-drug user now business woman Nancy’s story on page 12. 

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