Two inspirational experiences last week. Firstly, I paid a visit to the new premises of LEAP (Lothians & Edinburgh Abstinence Project) who work with people with drug and alcohol addictions who have reached a stage where they are prepared to tackle their addiction, with support, through abstinence and on a road to recovery. Its an intensive, structured, 12 week residential (for most) programme which, if completed is followed by further support to help people move back to their home environments and continue with the good work. It's a pretty successful programme too although it is dependent on individuals being prepared to confront their circumstances and do something about it. Probably takes a great deal of personal courage. The new premises at Astley Ainslie are very impressive and ideal for this sort of work. I also met a couple of lads who are progressing through the programme and they were really positive about their LEAP experience and optimistic about their own futures for the first time in years. One even admitted that he fully expected to be dead if he hadn't found LEAP.
Then I toddled back to the City Chambers to co host a Thank You event for Health and Social Care volunteers. Very informal with a glass of wine and light buffet but rather than the usual small talk one sometimes gets at these events I was genuinely impressed and fascinated by the volunteers I talked to. One works with the museums and galleries service to take people with disabilities on guided tours. Another gives up her time to support a group of recovering drug addicts. One guy befriends a 40 year old man with learning disabilities and has done for 15 years. He told me he wanted to make a contribution but had in fact taken more from his experience that he thought he had put in. All of these instances don't replace existing service provision but are an added extra, a very important extra that makes a great difference to a lot of people's lives. An inspiring day.