Midlothian recovery hub approach saved lives during drugs crisis

Tuesday October 31st 2023


Councillor Stuart McKenzie and Nick Clater, Midlothian's head of adult services at No11, Dalkeith.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A ground-breaking social health project which provides adults in Midlothian with access to a wide range of services under one roof has been credited with saving lives.

No11 in Dalkeith houses mental health, substance use and justice services in one building alongside volunteer groups and operates a ‘no wrong door’ policy which means any adult who walks in will be found the help needed.

The work of the recovery hub, which opened its doors in November 2019, has been credited with a huge drop in drug deaths recorded in the county, which fell from a ten year high of 23 people in 2021 to just four last year. And when the community was hit with four deaths in a short period in July this year, the joint teams at the hub reacted quickly to reach out to those at risk and make sure people stayed safe.

Nick Clater, Midlothian’s head of adult services, is in no doubt the actions of the hub team ensure more lives were not lost during the difficult time.

He said: “There is no doubt the team played a part in ensuring there were no further deaths at that time.”

What makes No11 stand out is having its support services housed with justice services.

Team manager Karen Darroch says the ability to walk down a corridor to find extra help or consult colleagues over a case makes it much easier for people seeking help.

She said: “One of the most frustrating things for people is when they need support, come to one service and are then told they need to go somewhere else or make another appointment at another location.

“Here people come in and if they need support from other services, we can go down the corridor and talk to colleagues and arrange things for them so they are not sent away.”

Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) developed the hub which is described as a trauma-informed integrated building.

Councillor Stuart McKenzie, Midlothian Council’s justice spokesperson, said as well as saving lives with its community substance use services, the support it gives to people who come in through the justice service, is life-changing.

He said: “I have met people who have been in the justice system and said the support they were able to access through No11 when they came out made a huge difference in their lives, in some cases, keeping them from falling back into previous problems.

“It can be as simple as ensuring they are able to keep safe and warm and giving them choices.”

As well as dealing with people face to face the service last year launched a Mental Health and Resilience Service (MHARS) helpline which people can call seven days a week for same-day access to services.

Since its launch, in conjunction with Scottish mental health charity Penumbra, in August it has provided help to more than 850 Midlothian residents.

The success of No11 in providing an umbrella of support for people in one place means health bosses are keen to see it replicated and are now looking for a second home for a centre to provide easy access to even more residents in the county.

Nick said: “The next goal is to open a second hub. There is no doubt the project works and is making a difference to people’s lives in Midlothian.”

To find out more about services available to access at No11 go to www.midspace.co.uk.

The MHARS helpline is open daily 8am to 10pm on 0800 1182962.

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