People from across Dundee came together at the weekend to show their support to those battling drug and alcohol addiction.
The city’s first-ever Hope Festival, held at the Steeple Church, was designed to tackle the hurtful stigma surrounding addiction that exists in society.
Organised by Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD), the event drew people from all walks of life, including those battling substance misuse themselves.
Participants included 35-year-old Cheryl Ferguson, who has been clean for three years after more than a decade of heroin addiction.
She said breaking down stigma was one of the most important steps needed to help people.
She said: “You don’t wake up one day and say ‘I want to take drugs’.
“We need to understand why people do it and get rid of that reason.
“When I was homeless, I would be kicked in the face. I was dirt on people’s shoes.
“All I could do was hold my head up high. But the kindness I was shown by some meant I was able to build my confidence and trust back up.
“If I hadn’t stopped taking drugs I would be in a box right now.”
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She said she hoped the weekend’s activities would be the start of a different way of approaching the issue and supporting members of the community who could benefit from some understanding.
“That’s why it’s in a church in the middle of a town – to encourage anybody to walk in and maybe get a better understanding that people who use drugs aren’t bad people,” she added.
“They’re just troubled and need help and guidance.”
People who attended the event were able to get free training on how to administer the anti-overdose drug Naloxone.
The Rev Kerry Dixon was among 41 people who took advantage of the instruction on Saturday.
He said he had tried to resuscitate a man overdosing in the past but was only able to give mouth-to-mouth before paramedics arrived to administer Naloxone and save his life.
Mr Dixon, who is a minister at St Paul’s Cathedral and others in Dundee, said: “There’s a real possibility that if I have this training and a kit available I could save someone’s life.”
The festival, which saw around 500 people attend, also featured face painting, live music, and film screenings.
Ash Husband, a connecting families development officer at SFAD, said: “The numbers at the festival are a testament to the many partners involved and to the community of Dundee who are ready to challenge the stigma faced by people who use substances, their families and friends.
“The way that the community has come together is heartwarming and just shows that there is hope for change in Dundee and a supportive and compassionate community is part of the story.”