Lorraine McGrath: We listen, we learn and we want to do more

Lorraine McGrath: We listen, we learn and we want to do more

Lorraine McGrath

Lorraine McGrath, CEO of homelessness charity Simon Community Scotland, responds to today’s latest Scottish Drug Death figures, which found that 1,051 people died due to drug misuse in 2022, a decrease of 279 deaths (21%) compared with 2021 and the lowest annual total since 2017.

The annual announcement of Scottish Drug Death figures is a date that brings a feeling of deep sadness to everyone at Simon Community Scotland. It is a reminder that every life lost is a profound tragedy that compels us to re-evaluate and drive meaningful change.

On behalf of everyone at Simon Community Scotland, we extend our heartfelt condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one, friend, colleague, or someone they supported. We know that there is a person and a life story full of potential behind every one of the figures released today.

Through the sense of loss and grief, we must unite with renewed urgency and compassion to make a change.

At Simon Community Scotland, I am immensely proud to work with our team to place safety and harm reduction at the heart of our approach to the people we support. Listening, learning, and building trust and relationships are what drive change.

Over the last few years we have seen a dramatic reduction in the loss of life in our services from close to 20 per year to no more than two, but still two too many. I believe and hope that one day we will report that we have had no-one lose their life to drug related harm in our services.

We have just marked the first year of our We See You project in Glasgow. We See You supports people who are experiencing homelessness and using substances in Glasgow City Centre. Providing people with connection, purpose, meaning, structure and support has made an incredible difference. Everyone who started the programme is still with us today.

In the next couple of months, we will extend the We See You approach to our Edinburgh services.

We listen, we learn and we want to do more in the future.

Every precious life lost is a painful reminder of the urgent need for compassion, understanding, and continued improvement in how we respond to why and how people use substances in Scotland today.

Share icon
Share this article: