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Prisoner Training Programme Helping to Tackle Drug Issues in Scotland

Published: | Drugs

A training programme helping prisoners to tackle drug issues has won several awards.

The programme picked up Volunteer of the Year at our Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) Staff Awards for Excellence in October 2022. It also received two awards at the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) Public Health Directorate Excellence Awards 2022, for Volunteer of the Year and Innovation of the Year.

The Peer Naloxone training programme, which operates within HMP Barlinnie and HMP Low Moss, provides the opportunity for prisoners to volunteer and undertake training on how to administer naloxone.

Naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose until medical assistance arrives and can be vital in saving lives.

Peer Champions participate in a number of training sessions delivered by both Health Improvement staff and external trainers, with the programme providing an opportunity for those who live in prison to participate and complete training to then deliver high quality training to other prisoners.

Rhoda Macleod, Head of Adult Services, Sexual health, Police Custody and Prison Health Care for Glasgow City HSCP, said: “The programme was developed to help make our communities safer places. Peer Naloxone Champions attempt to meet with everybody with a planned liberation date leaving prison and offer the opportunity to participate in overdose prevention, intervention and naloxone training.

“This service is unique and our mentors have had the opportunity to influence the number of deaths recorded in Scotland that are attributed to substance misuse. Within the first quarter of this year, 412 take-home Naxolene kits were issued from Scottish Prisons and 176 or 43% of those kits were supplied by Peer Champions. 

“We currently have 11 active mainstream mentors in HMP Barlinnie and HMP Low Moss and the training sessions help equip the mentors with the knowledge and skills to carry forward their peer mentor role. Peer Champions provide evidence-based overdose prevention messages and encourage safer drug using practices that minimises the harms and risks to their peers.

“People living within prison receive no payment or benefits to participate in this programme and this highlights the commitment to reducing drug related harm within our communities.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesperson said: “It’s great to see people in our care rewarded with these Volunteer of the Year Awards for this important work. 

“The Scottish Prison Service is determined to play our part in saving lives across Scotland.

“Thanks to our NHS partners, the efforts of staff and our mentors, people leaving our care will have the knowledge and tools to do exactly that.

“This is an invaluable piece of volunteering, which will make a real difference in our communities.”

Kirsten Horsburgh, Director of Operations at Scottish Drug Forum, said: “Scottish Drugs Forum is delighted and proud to have supported this work through funding from the Drug Deaths Taskforce and Scottish Government.

“Staff and peer volunteers leading this project have worked in partnership to ensure that Naloxone is available to those at elevated risk of a drug-related death on release from prison, by creating an innovative model of practice which is truly ground-breaking.

“The number of first supplies of Naloxone being made by people in both these prison settings is testament to the increased reach and immediate credibility that peer volunteers have.

“There is no doubt that this project will be saving lives and supporting wider efforts across the country to prevent drug deaths.”

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