A LIFESAVING project set up by a frontline charity worker from Greenock is in line for a national award.

From her Larkfield home Suzie Gallagher is playing a critical role in the fight to reverse the tragic rise in drug deaths here and across the country.

She has saved 295 lives this year through her work with Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs by sending out Naloxone kits, which rapidly reverse opioid overdoses.

Suzie works closely with groups in Inverclyde, which sadly has one of the country's worst records on drug deaths.

She is thrilled the project has just been shortlisted for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations pioneering project prize.

Health and development officer Suzie, who lives in Banff Road, said: "We are so honoured to be recognised in this way.

"This is a national project which is run right here in Greenock.

"It is a major step forward as we try to reduce drug deaths.

"As a charity we have traditionally been there for families affected by drugs and alcohol but this is something very practical that we can do to prevent deaths.

"The Naloxone kit is something that loved ones can have there ready so that it can be used.

"We have postmen in Inverclyde, shops and other places carrying the kits so they can save lives.

"During lockdown there was a huge rise demand for the kits, up by 60 per cent."

In Inverclyde there were another 33 drug deaths last year, with the area having the third highest death rate in the country.

Alcohol-related mortality has also reached its highest level here for ten years, with 32 people dying due to drink.

Suzie added: "In many ways alcohol deaths have not had the same attention because alcohol is legal and drugs are not.

"But they are all health issues.

"I think we are all starting to waken up to the tragedy."

Suzie feels that radical changes are needed in health and social care to properly tackle the crisis.

The SFAAD charity tries to plug gaps in statutory services, with many people with alcohol and drug problems forced to wait too long for help.

Suzie said: "There is lots of great grassroots work in Inverclyde with the likes of Your Voice and the Recovery project, that is the way ahead.

"But there also needs to be a way for people to access mental health services as well as drug and alcohol ones, bringing them together.

"Right now it is too difficult for people to get the help they need."

*The SCVO charity awards 2021will be hosted by newsreader, presenter and author Sally Magnusson in a virtual ceremony next month.