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Harvard Medical Students Visit

Last week, Turning Point Scotland welcomed international visitors from Boston, Massachusetts, Natalie and Haim. Natalie has spent the last 2 years employed in Boston Mayor's Office working on policies and programmes related to homelessness, substance use, and harm reduction. On her visit to Glasgow, Natalie wanted to meet with Turning Point Scotland to learn about our crisis response, harm reduction and homelessness services.

Jan Mayor, Practice and Innovation Lead- Alcohol and Other Drugs invited Natalie and Haim to meet at Glasgow Alcohol and Other Drugs Crisis Service (GADCS). Along with Jan, the visitors were welcomed by Jodie Moore, Practice and Quality Manager (GADSC), Bill Mackay, Service Manager, Glasgow Flexible Homelessness Outreach Support Service, Katrina Foster, Housing First Consortium and TPS Connects members; Ann, Claire, David, and Maria.

Following introductions, the group got straight into an in depth discussion on stigma and how it contributes to drug related deaths and how changing attitudes is a key part of harm reduction interventions.  The group compared approaches in Boston and Glasgow. Each member of TPS Connects shared their own personal story of finding Turning Point Scotland and the service that was used to support them as well as the development they have since had with joining TPS Connects and what that means to them. This created a conversation on Turning Point Scotland’s Citizenship approach which is defined by the 5 R’s: Rights, Responsibilities, Roles, Relationships, Resources and their sense of belonging that TPS Connects provides for them. Citizenship is a philosophy and model originating from America but was brought here by Turning Point Scotland, following the emerging partnership and links with both the University of Strathclyde and Yale in Connecticut, USA. There is a similar group in Boston and we hope to connect the two groups over zoom! 

The group then went on to talk through the Housing First Service, the influence from America and the FHOSS mentoring programme. Natalie was interested in tenancy sustainment and the community inclusion that Turning Point Scotland brings to homelessness services.

Natalie was keen to learn how we have innovated in our field and was extremely impressed to hear about our Wound Care, Assessment of Injecting, Naloxone and Dry Blood Spot testing (WAND) initiative in which mobile units are used to deliver a range of clinical harm reduction interventions that operate flexibly. Natalie agreed with our approach to combine alcohol and other drugs services as well as understanding the link with homelessness, justice and mental health within this verifies Turning Point Scotland motivation and commitment to influence.  Natalie was impressed with the recent merger of alcohol and other drugs in our crisis interventions; and our hopes to take the Stabilisation Service model to other areas of Scotland. A particular interest was how Turning Point Scotland was driven by a values based approach, shared across all our services, and how that helped us to explore the links between alcohol and other drugs; homelessness, justice and mental health.

Jodie then provided a tour of the Crisis Service and integrated health and social care facilities offered to help individuals to live healthy, meaningful and connected lives. Natalie felt inspired and is looking forward to taking what she had learned back to Boston.

Natalie and Haim will attend Harvard Medical School to practice medicine with people dependent on alcohol and/or other drugs, later this year. We wish them all best for their studies and future endeavours.

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