FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross are set to visit a drugs recovery group in Glasgow.

The politicians have confirmed that they will jointly visit Bluevale Community Club in Haghill on Monday November 22.

The head of the organisation has said this must be a “turning point” in tackling substance abuse.

We previously told how Sturgeon and Ross were embroiled in a dispute over who best represents working-class Scotland.

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It led to the First Minister inviting Ross to visit a working class community to see who is really “in touch”.

And now, the pair have agreed to a visit at the end of the month, with Kenny Trainer, founder of Bluevale Community Club, insisting the visit “can’t be a one-off photo op”.

Drugs minister Angela Constance will also be attending, having been tasked with tackling the drugs death crisis in her ministerial brief.

In 2020, there were 1339 lives lost to drugs in Scotland. 

The visit was arranged after exchanges between the SNP and Scottish Tory leaders at FMQs in Holyrood last month.

The National:

Drugs minister Angela Constance will also be joining the visit

Sturgeon challenged Ross to visit a working-class area with her in the wake of the UK Government’s £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit.

Ross agreed, but also suggested they visit the Bluevale Community Club in Glasgow’s Haghill area as he pushed for more action to tackle Scotland’s drugs problem.

Trainer said communities like his have “not yet seen the benefits of what Scotland’s politicians promised would be delivered on the ground, nor the support that our communities need”.

He added: “People in places like Haghill are mostly left to come up with solutions on our own.

“That’s why we started Bluevale Community Club. It’s a place run by local people for local people, so they get access to the support and services they need.”

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Trainer continued: “A visit with the First Minister and Opposition leader to a club like ours doesn’t happen often. But this can’t be a one-off photo op.

“This meeting has to be above party politics. It has to be a turning point that delivers a firm commitment towards changing things for the better.”

While he said his group has recently received some funding for its work, he added that “this is a drop in the ocean to what we need to continue to provide all of the services we offer”.

Stephen Wishart, a volunteer at the community club, said: “Bluevale does incredible work to give people mental and physical health services that they can’t access anywhere else.

“But groups like Bluevale are struggling to even exist at the moment. Many are run voluntarily with little to no money from the Government or council.

“There are enormous funding gaps in these community, recovery and addiction services in Scotland that need to be tackled.”

The National:

Nicola Sturgeon will visit the Haghill centre in a few weeks

He added that the Right to Recovery Bill, being proposed by the Scottish Tories, would “cut through the current addiction system and mean places like Bluevale Community Club will get the right funding to help even more people”.

Meanwhile, Ross said: “Bluevale is a perfect example of the kind of grassroots community project we should be throwing financial support behind across Scotland.

“These essential locally-run services can’t be left to fill in the gaps in Scotland’s system on their own.”

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He added: “Frontline experts back the Right to Recovery Bill because it would guarantee that everyone gets access to the treatment services they need to get their lives back on track, and whole system programmes like Bluevale would get the support they deserve to help people in our communities.

“We hope this visit can be a watershed moment that secures the Government’s support for our Right to Recovery Bill, but we will consider other solutions that the Government brings to the table too.”