Inverclyde Recovery Month

SEPTEMBER is Recovery Month and here in Inverclyde there have been a host of events taking place to mark it and celebrate the strength of those in recovery from substance use.

There was a candlelit vigil in Clyde Square to honour the lives lost to overdose while several of our fantastic recovery services in Inverclyde have opened their doors to encourage people to see what’s on offer.

Last Sunday, Tea in the Park took place in Coronation Park in Port Glasgow. Organisers put on a family-friendly lineup of live performances and there were also burger vans, facepainting for wee ones and of course plenty of information available from Recovery Community Group stalls.

Inverclyde has been chosen as this year’s setting for Recovery Walk Scotland, which is Scottish Recovery Consortium’s flagship event.

Taking place on Saturday, September 23, the event will include a Roses Ceremony to remember those lost to substance use and suicide, the Recovery Walk procession through Inverclyde, and the Recovery Festival Village at Battery Park which will have a tented village, speakers and live music.

We cannot ignore the harm caused by alcohol and drugs. Recent figures showing the number of deaths from alcohol and drugs misuse in Inverclyde are proof of that. It’s worth remembering behind every statistic is a person with loved ones. Help is out there for those who need it and I hope Recovery Month gives people the strength they need to seek support.

Improving the Cancer Journey service

I WAS delighted to recently attend the launch of Inverclyde Macmillan Improving the Cancer Journey service at the Beacon Arts Centre. This vital service means anyone affected by cancer, including family members and carers, can access support through a dedicated one-to-one Wellbeing Practitioner. This Wellbeing Practitioner can help people with a range of things from benefits advice and emotional support to help at home or with other practical needs.

It was particularly moving to hear first-hand from people who have been affected by cancer. People like Mary Purdie, a retired school finance officer from Gourock, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2022. Through the service she received a range of support for her physical and mental health and said she is now in a much better place as a result.

Upcoming strikes

I FULLY respect the right of support staff in our schools to go on strike for a better pay deal. However, I can’t agree with those who claim the pay offer that was rejected is “derisory”.

All staff were offered a 5% pay rise from 1 April this year, which for the lowest paid staff amounts to an increase of £1,047 for those working full-time. There would then be a further increase from 1 January 2024, with those on the lower grades receiving the highest increases.

The overall increase for those on the lowest grade would be 9.12% and no employee would receive less than 6.05%.

Council Leaders nevertheless agreed last week to allocate a further sum of money to improve the pay offer to the lowest paid, despite the very real pressures on our finances.

I hope we can reach an agreement soon to avoid the upcoming strikes.