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Lifeline Glasgow support service shut down despite Scotland’s deadly drugs toll

© Andrew Cawley / DCT MediaThe 37-bed James Shields unit facing closure
The 37-bed James Shields unit facing closure

A scheme that has turned around the lives of teenagers struggling with drugs has been shut down, weeks after Scotland was named the drug death capital of Europe.

For more than 20 years, the James Shields Service project in Glasgow – in the ­south-side constituency of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – has provided life-changing support for teens struggling with addiction and homelessness.

But on Friday, youngsters were told they were being moved out of the 37-bed unit, as Glasgow City Council withdraws support.

And almost 20 drug and youth workers face losing their jobs at the unit, run jointly between the charity Quarriers and the council.

One worker spoke of their concern for the youngsters. “Many have been taken off the streets. This place has been a lifeline, their only chance to turn their lives around.

“For many of them, some as young as 16, this has been the only stable ‘home’ they have known. Taking that away will leave them even more vulnerable and at risk of self-harm and even suicide.”

The project, based in Pollokshaws Road, has 37 self-contained bedsit flats, with 24-hour support for teenagers, many of whom have suffered violence, or exploitation, and have lived on the streets.

Almost 1,200 died of drug-related deaths in Scotland last year, a rise of 27% on 2017 and the highest recorded rate in Europe.

Quarriers said the council has served notice on them and added: ”We are proud of this service and fully committed to supporting our 28 staff and 37 young people throughout this difficult time.”

MSP Neil Findlay who has campaigned on Scotland’s drugs crisis, said: “It’s inconceivable such a successful scheme is being closed down.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “The service is no longer appropriate for the young people that use it, both in terms of its scale and the very dated environment it provides.

“We are, instead, committed to supporting people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness in their own tenancies or in more appropriate, smaller scale supported living arrangements.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declined to comment.

A Scottish Government spokesman said it “is an issue for Glasgow City Council and Quarriers”.