Alcohol support charity moves to meet demand

SCOTLAND'S largest support service for people battling alcohol problems has expanded to cope with increased demand in Glasgow.

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Last year, an extra 2000 people were referred to Glasgow Council on Alcohol for counselling and support.

The charity, which supports adults, teenagers and even children as young as 12, has moved to a new base which has more rooms for group therapy and improved facilities for families.

While GCA has only previously offered counselling, people battling alcoholism will also now have access to a range of therapeutic sessions including complementary therapies, arts, healthy eating advice and exercise classes.

A spokeswoman for the charity, which launched in 1965, said the number of people seeking help for alcoholism and problem drinking is growing every year.

On average 20 Scots a week die from alcohol misuse.

GCA runs outreach projects in "high risk" areas including Yoker, Govanhill and the East End and launched an "SOS" bus in the city centre for revellers.

More than 572 people sought help in the bus last year, 264 of them under 25.

There is also a dedicated counselling service for young people aged 12-25.

Linda McInally, head of prevention and education for GCA, said: "To say that numbers are growing is an understatement.

"We know the situation in Scotland and we know the situation in Glasgow. We have been here for 50 years so we know there is a need for the service.

"The new facilities will allow us to offer a more holistic approach to service users.

"Research has shown that meaningful activity such as exercise and cookery classes can help build self-esteem and resilience."

Public Health Minister ­Michael Matheson was given a tour of the new facilities at 14 North Claremont Street.

He said: "On average 20 Scots a week die from alcohol misuse - this is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.

"As well as addressing ­pricing and availability, we are also investing heavily in recovery services that provide a much-needed lifeline to people recovering from alcohol and drug problems, as well as supporting affected children and families too.

"The support services provided by Glasgow Council on Alcohol are a key part of this government's target to get more people with alcohol-related problems the treatment they need, quickly and effectively, in a way which is right for them."

Last year GCA's Prevention and Education team spoke to more than 32,000 people about substance misuse.

The charity has 65 staff and 100 volunteers, many of whom have been helped by the service, and also runs an alcohol and drugs education programme for Glasgow's primary and secondary schools.

For more information, go to http://www.glasgow councilonalcohol.org

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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