For most of us, getting to the doctors or a health appointment isn’t an issue. We might drive, get a lift with a friend or family member, or get the bus or train. We might be disgruntled over the frequency of the buses, or indeed the cost, but nonetheless we would get there.
But what if we weren’t able to get a lift, or couldn’t afford the bus? We hear about how transport is an issue for the ADP and an initiative they have come up with try and address it.
The APD – what is it?
Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) is a collection of public bodies and citizen activists seeking to draw together interested parties to collectively tackle the issues associated with problematic alcohol and drug use and support recovery from addiction.
The ADP’s three key messages are:
- Addiction can affect anyone. Difficulties with alcohol and drug misuse do not tend to occur because people have been hedonistic or irresponsible. They are more likely to occur because people are trying to cope with significant difficulties in their life and may also be affected by a range of fundamental disadvantages in life, including isolation.
- Recovery from addiction is possible. People should be hopeful that with support, they can follow a pathway of recovery that leads to a happy, fulfilling and contributing life. Some of the most inspirational and serene people you can meet are those who have pursued a recovery journey.
- Stigma and inequities in access to support can inhibit recovery and make addiction worse.
What does the APD do?
Aberdeenshire ADP works with communities on issues of prevention, public protection and recovery. The ADP has an active agenda to involve and engage citizens in improving support services and contributing to their delivery.
The ADP and Transport – what’s the link?
For the last few years, a common response from citizens has been that the availability and affordability of public transport in Aberdeenshire has been a barrier to people accessing the services and support of the ADP. Not only this, but it restrains people from regular aspects of community life which are necessary to engage with the wider community and pursue a journey of recovery.
Substance misuse services aim to support people who can afford to access their services but this isn’t always possible.
How are we resolving these issues?
The ADP’s 3 community forums have tried to support people in need by providing funding for bus passes but have struggled with obtaining funding. Meanwhile, the has ADP sought to influence Transport Scotland to open the existing concessionary travel scheme for older and disabled people to include those actively working to recover from addictions. The current criteria for entitlement are here: http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/public-transport/concessionary-travel-people-aged-60-or-disability
Similar requests from a number of other ADP’s across Scotland led to Transport Scotland agreeing in October to support a pilot project in Aberdeenshire to test whether temporary dispensations to the concessionary travel schemes would result in improved engagement and recovery outcomes for alcohol and drug clients in order to influence future policy.
How does the Pilot work?
The pilot commenced on 2 December and will run until end March 2015. The pilot enables certain staff in Substance Misuse services to assess whether difficulties in accessing affordable transport are a real barrier to someone making progress on one or more aspects of their agreed recovery plan.
If so, the staff member is able to authorise the person’s application for concessionary travel and will record their deliberations on a simple spreadsheet. This data will be evaluated at the end of the pilot to assess whether the rate of engagement in recovery activities such as care and treatment appointments, mutual aid, or other activities directly related to supporting recovery has increased and whether this has resulted in improvements in individual’s recovery progress.
If we can show that access to concessionary travel support enhances people’s recovery, we hope to persuade government to change eligibility for the scheme on a permanent basis. We hope the business case will stack up and that stigmatising views about people in recovery don’t get in the way.
For more information on the ADP please visit: http://www.aberdeenshireadp.org.uk/ or follow the ADP on Twitter: @abdnshireadp