Chair of the Board of Scottish Drugs Forum retires after long service to the drugs field in Scotland

The Chair of the Board of Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF), George Allan, has retired after long service to SDF and to the drugs field in Scotland.

George stood down as SDF Chair at the January Board meeting after serving on the Board for ten years – the last five years as Chair.  The significance of the loss to SDF and its wider stakeholders is readily measured by the scale of the contribution he has made.  He leaves a considerable legacy in the work of the organisation.

It is very much the mark of the man who worked selflessly for SDF in a voluntary capacity for such a long time that, while he instigated the development of infrastructure and support systems that have allowed the organisation to grow and thrive, the fact that George initiated and inspired much of this change is largely unrecognised by wider SDF stakeholders and even by staff.

George was a long-standing member of SDF before he joined the Board and attended most SDF conferences and events for many years.  Immediately before his retirement, he was a lecturer in Social Work at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen where he taught substance problems modules.

He was Director of Renfrew Council on Alcohol from 1981 to 1986. George also worked for Aberdeenshire Council between 1999 and 2007, initially as a specialist substance problems Care Manager and then as a Strategic Development Officer with responsibility for developing services for young people with drug or alcohol problems and implementing the Getting our Priorities Right agenda.

He has a particular interest in the topics of children affected by parental substance use and the implementation of the recovery agenda in mainstream services.

David Liddell, SDF CEO, said: “I am not sure I can convey the level of gratitude we all owe him, from an organisational point of view and also from me personally.  He has been a rock, supporting me through a range of challenges SDF has faced over recent years.

“One of the biggest compliments I can pay to George is that not only does he have a very astute strategic mind; he also has an eye for detail. As a result, SDF’s governance is in a very much stronger position.

“George is a man who holds himself and colleagues to the highest ethical standards.  He always paused to consider the ethical implications of an action.  It is a good habit to have. One example of George’s high ethical standards was a book he authored in 2014, Working With Substance Users: A Guide to Effective Interventions.  This was the first book George had authored, although he contributed chapters to other academic texts.1 It is an interesting and useful book and we were keen to promote this book, to SDF members and others; but George was adamant that we would not as this would be him taking advantage of his role as SDF Chair!

“George was always friendly but formal in his dealing with key stakeholders, but he also had a wicked sense of humour, which he occasionally displayed to devastating and memorable effect.”

George’s worked changed the experience of working at SDF and the work of SDF itself.  In his retirement, we can be sure he will show the same vigour and rigour in pursuing his interests, most especially in walking and mountaineering. We wish him well.

  1. For example ‘Substance use: what are the risks?’ in Hothersall, S. and Maas-Lowit, M. (eds.) (2010) Need, Risk and Protection in Social Work Practice. Exeter: Learning Matters; ‘Substance use and social policy in Scotland’ in Hothersall, S. and Bolger, J. (eds) (2010) Social Policy for Social Work, Social Care and the Caring Professions. Farnham: Ashgate and ‘Cognitive behavioural therapy: its practice and its a place in social work’ in Lishman, J., Yuill, C., Brannan, J. and Gibson, A. (2014) Social Work: an introduction. London: Sage.