Funding announced for new technologies to help people stay in touch with services

1st March 2021

Up to £2.75 million has been granted by the Scottish Government and the Drugs Deaths Taskforce to help people at risk from drug-related harm stay connected to life-saving services during the pandemic and beyond.

Over the next two years, the funding will be used to supply and distribute smart phones and other appropriate devices, provide data and to build the skills and confidence of people using services and those who support them.

The initiative will reach a minimum of 2,000 people who use services and 200 staff through a collaboration between a wide range of service providers, stakeholders, service users and carers.

Funding will be also be provided to develop a range of digital technologies, encourage service innovations such as alert and responder apps and to enable the identification of any effective approaches that will support the redesign of services nationally.

Drugs Policy Minister, Angela Constance ,said:

“Isolation and disconnect from services is a particular concern during the pandemic and this will help people at risk stay in touch with the services which can support them.

“This funding will help people at risk from drug related harm get the right help at the right time. For instance, it will help keep people connected to support following a near fatal overdose, after contact with outreach services, or if they are in shelters or community care settings and as part of after-care following treatment or recovery.

“As part of our national mission to tackle drug deaths we want to support more people into treatment and be confident appropriate after care is in place. This initiative will ensure those who want help are able to access it at any time, no matter where they are.”

Homelessness charity SIMON Community Scotland Chief Executive, Lorraine McGrath, said:

“SIMON Community Scotland has been supporting people with a range of complex needs, including problem drug use, to stay connected with family and friends and access vital health and care services through digital means, particularly during the pandemic when some became even more isolated as the rest of the world moved rapidly to connecting virtually.

“We are fully in support of this initiative. It will make a big difference to people’s ability to maintain connections with their support and care and build what are increasingly critical digital life skills.

“It empowers the people we support with the freedom to make a phone call or connect face to face with someone at the precise time they are in need of help.”

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