Jenny Marra MSP -  Families  - Speech in the Scottish Parliament debate

21 June 2012

The debate has been very good, and it is timely and worthwhile.

I thank Nanette Milne and the Conservatives for bringing the topic to the chamber.

In the past year, since I was elected, many people in Dundee have told me that the Parliament should make drug misuse one of its biggest priorities as they see the devastating effects that it has on the community, so I am very pleased to speak in the debate.

Labour’s amendment highlights—in addition to the Grampian Family Support Forum, which does such good work—the work of organisations such as Scottish Families Affected by Drugs that do similar work throughout the country.

I know that SFAD has, in Dundee, been particularly active and successful in integrating the needs of families who are affected by drugs into the recovery process.

I will touch on a few speeches. Dr Simpson—as always—made a good contribution, and his call for further work on bereavement counselling for families who lose loved ones to drugs is, I hope, an issue that the minister will pick up on in her closing remarks.

Kezia Dugdale called for more naloxone programmes across the country.

Mary Scanlon’s intervention about the mental health issues underlying many people’s addictions was pertinent and is, I hope, an issue that we might debate in the future.

Neil Bibby made a good opening speech on the effects on children.

That is certainly the drugs issue that is closest to my heart, and I hear so many stories about it in my home city.

He also raised the Scottish Government’s commitment to provide financial support for kinship carers.

I hope that that, too, is an issue that the minister will address.

Kenneth Gibson made a good contribution on the further work that should be done to reduce long-term methadone dependency.

I know that there are a number of projects across the country that are seeking to do that, but it is an area that the Government should examine more closely.

I was struck by the focus on families.

I know the importance of that network, but it would be remiss of members to forget the drug addicts who do not have family support and, who, as a result of poverty, joblessness and homelessness, are alone and struggling with their addictions.

I hope that that is also a subject that we can bring back to the chamber.

We should not forget the causes of drug addiction in our communities: the poverty and unemployment that lead to a cycle of hopelessness and no options, and then to desperation for a way out that can lead to dependence on drugs.

Neither should we forget the lost generation of young parents and the children—some of whom also fall victim to drugs—who are living with grandparents, or the constituents who, as I said, see the devastating effects on their communities and plead with me to make the fight on drugs the priority of the Parliament.

I commend, on behalf of Labour, the work of people all over the country who work with the excellent family support services that were referred to by Nanette Milne.

The selfless nature of the work is what sustains affected families and the projects.

I commend Nanette Milne’s motion, and I lend Labour’s support to it.

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