RECOVERING addicts and people with mental health conditions have praised a Greenock social hub for bringing them back from the brink.

Frank Harvey, from Port Glasgow, says the Inverclyde Recovery Cafe has completely transformed his life.

The 40-year-old now wants to raise awareness of the group and encourage others in need to come along.

Frank said: “In the past, I was an alcoholic and drug addict but I’ve now been clean for four months.

“The Recovery Cafe provided me with a safe place to go and meet like-minded people there for the same reason — to get clean and sober.

“If it wasn’t for this place, I’d be sitting in the house getting lost in my thoughts and I would end up using drugs and drinking.

“This has given me a place to go — it has changed my life.”

The Recovery Cafe, which is based at Your Voice in Clyde Square, opened more than four years ago.

It offers a safe and friendly place for people to support one another.

As well as access to training and education, the group also offers Tai Chi, jam sessions, social evenings and a monthly Saturday brunch and jumble sale.

Frank says: “The most important thing in my recovery is staying busy because if I’m not busy then that’s when the danger arises.

“The Recovery Cafe enables me to get out the house and join different groups and go to meetings.

“Staying as busy as possible is the key to my recovery and that’s why the cafe is brilliant.”

Nathan McGonigal from Greenock told the Tele how the cafe has helped him cope with mental health issues by getting out and socialising with other people who face similar struggles.

The 25-year-old said: “I have been involved with the cafe for two years and it has given me a purpose.

“It’s an environment where you can meet people who are wanting to achieve the same thing — to stay well.

“The cafe has built my confidence and self esteem and I’m a lot calmer and more mature.

“It’s worked wonders for me.”

Marc Steel from Port Glasgow, who has battled depression, is another person who has been helped by the hub.

The 53-year-old said: “I’ve been going to the music jams and it’s given me the opportunity to perform and write my own music.

“The guys at the cafe have been brilliant and we help each other.”

Jamie Conway, a recovery development worker at the project, says it is going from strength to strength.

He said: “A big part of addiction is isolation and loneliness.

“The cafe is about connecting with people and connecting them with things they used to enjoy, and learning that being clean is more attractive than using drugs.

“People use because they want to mask their feelings and escape from reality — that’s how they cope with life.

“The opposite of addiction is connecting.

“Whether that’s connecting with an old hobby or something else, people need something to look forward to.”

Jamie, who is a former drug addict, hopes to encourage others to take the first step in their recovery by walking through the Recovery Cafe’s doors.

He said: “People can move forward and better their lives.”

The Recovery Cafe is open to anyone — just pop in to Your Voice or phone 728628.