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In the News

Addiction centre offers support

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 19th December 2012.

THE Addiction Recovery Centre in Kirkintilloch will be open to help and support people throughout the festive season.

The centre is keen to let people know that they do not need to struggle over the holiday period and help is available when they might need it rnost.

The charity supports peo- ple with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions, and family members.

Seamus Harkin, who runs the centre, said: "We understand that this is a particularly difficult time of year for someone who has addiction issues for numerous reasons.

"But knowing that you can talk to a person who under- stands can be a life-saver.

"This can be a lonely time for some people, so to come up to our drop-in for some company can help keep the person positive."

The centre, in Townhead, Kirkintilloch, is open Monday to Friday, from 12noon - 3pm, with different projects on daily, nightly and at weekends.

For more deatails you can call the centre on 0141 776 3887.

Addiction Centre Named Charity of the Year

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 1st August 2012. Report by David Hepburn

Dods Charity Champion

DEDICATION: Stewart Savage (left) and Seamus Harkin (right) from the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre are pictured at the awards ceremony with East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson.

A CHARITY dedicated to helping people with addiction issues has landed a major award.

Stewart Savage and Seamus Harkin travelled to the House of Commons to accept the Dods Local Charity of the Year Award on behalf of the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre.

The awards were hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

The addiction centre was nominated by East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson for the support it provides to addicts and their families across the whole of East Dunbartonshire and parts of North Lanarkshire.

Seamus told the Herald: "lt was a real experience to go and collect the award - within a year of being awarded the Queen's Award.

"Recently we had a meeting with more than 60 people and one of our clients was marking a year clean and sober.

"He now has a lovely home, a lovely family and a lovely life. That's really the reward for us, but it's also nice to be recognised like this.

"We'd like to thank Jo Swinson for nominating us,as well as all the other MPs and MSPs who have supported us.

"We'd also like to thank all the local councillors who give us their backing."

MP Jo Swinson said: "What a truly worthy organisation to take home this award.

"I am sure the East Dunbartonshire community will join me in offering my congratulations. We should be proud that this inspirational, award-winning group is based right here."

MP Jo Swinson nominates addiction centre for award

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 11th April 2012

AN AWARD-winning addiction centre could soon be adding another accolade to its honours.

The Addiction Recovery Centre in Kirkintilloch has been nominated for a Dods Charity Champion Award by East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson.

Parliamentarians are asked to nominate a local charitable organisation that they feel deserves special recognition for the good work that they have carried out over the past year.

The centre provides support to those suffering from an addiction and their families.

All parliamentarians will now be invited to vote until May 4, 2012 in order to decide the winners in each category.

Two bites at the Cherry

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 11th April 2012. Report by Caren McPate

James D

A GREAT-grandad who battled alcohol addiction and suffered tragedy at the hands of the disease has written a moving book about his life.

James Differ (79) was only 15 years-old when he started drinking as a seaman with the Merchant Navy.

It was the beginning of James' 28-year battle with the booze.

During those turbulent years, he served time in prison for assault and robbery, lost jobs and saw the devastating affect it had on his wife, May, and their nine children.

Tragically three of their sons have passed away.

James hit rock bottom when he considered taking his own life.

But thanks to the kindness of strangers, his faith and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), he turned his life around.


He decided to write his book, 'Two Bites at the Cherry', at the suggestion of his late wife May.

James said: "I never wrote it to get published. It was really for the children and grandchildren to give them the history of my family.

"A man came to my door one night when I was coming back from an AA meeting and said he had read my story. He had a drink problem and asked if I could help him. He's still sober and is doing great."

James was born in Freeland Place in Kirkintilloch and grew up in the town before moving to Croy. A former coal miner, he did his national service in the Army and worked at the oil refinery in Grangemouth.

For several years James had his drinking under control, but the death of his son Colin, aged seven months, to silent pneumonia in 1962, saw him turn to the bottle once again.

He later lost his job in the oil refinery and ended up in prison for robbery.

The turning point came in February 1977, aged 43.

James explained: "I was sitting in a pub in Kilsyth and decided to commit suicide for the sake of the kids. I was in a terrible state with the drink.

"As I was walking from the pub I got into a fight with a man I had taken money from the night before.

"A man from the Church of God came and took me away. As I went to leave the church, the man's wife stopped me and said, 'if you go out there you will die'. She said a prayer for me."

For some unknown reason James decided to go to the Burngreen Hall and little did he know there was an AA meeting taking place.

Since then he has not touched alcohol.

His wife May, who had started drinking with James, also stopped days after him.

James said: "I changed - I became a nice person. Even with all my carry on, I was a family man, but the drink was a wedge between us.


"I got a job in the quarry in Croy and worked there until I retired. I never wanted a drink."

Sadly, tragedy struck the family again in 1993 when James and May's son Hugh died following alcohol and drug problems.

He was 19-years-old.

In a further devastating blow, their son James, who also battled drink addiction, committed suicide - aged 36 - three years later.

James said: "It's still hard, I was walking down to Kilsyth the other day and I thought about it all.

"May became a recluse and suffered from osteoporosis and cancer. "

Sadly May caught pnemnonia and died in July 2005, aged 72 - just months before her and James' 50th wedding anniversary.

James has dedicated his book 'Two Bites at the Cherry' to May. It was released last year exclusively for the Kindle through the Amazon website and has received good reviews.

James has spoken about his problems with alcohol at conventions all over the world and still attends AA meetings every evening.

As well as dealing with alcohol addiction, the remarkable James has battled several strokes and heart attacks.

He dotes on his children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

James added: "My advice to anyone wanting help is to go to AA - never try and stop yourself."

David is on the write track after nursing, reporting and politics

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 25th January 2012.

David Lingiah

AN EX-NURSE and journalist has carved out a new career - publishing a book of inspirational quotes and ideas.

David Lingiah (68), from Lenzie, was born in Mauritius, but emigrated to Scotland in 1967.

He left a career in politics and journalism in his homeland for a new life in Lenzie where he became a nurse - working at the former Woodilee Hospital.

After further training at Stobhill Hospital he became a charge nurse, and then studied at Jordanhill College to become a nursing tutor.

Since retiring to look after his family in the late 1980s David has written several books, as well as completing a degree in health studies at Caledonian University.

He now volunteers at Kirkintilloch's Addiction Recovery Centre, Cruse Bereavement Care and Victim Support - where he offers a counselling service.

The author is also involved with a number of international universities, where he helps students with their studies.

His latest self-published book is entitled 'What Moves You, Are You Inspirational?' and features quotations from a number of sources - from Shakespeare and the Bible, to renowned scientists and poets.

Each quote is accompanied by an explanatory chapter written by David or one of his friends from across the globe.

David told the Herald: "The book is a culmination of the efforts of a number of contributors across many parts of the world who were willing to share their experiences and reflections on who or what moved them - a book, an individual, a character, a quotation, a saying - and how it has shaped their lives."

He added: "These are things which have been inspirational to me and I hope that they might inspire others to live a good life and to feel rejuvenated and happier - as I did when I was putting it together."

If you would like a copy of the book, e-mail David at

Addiction centre is ready to help 24/7

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 28th December 2011. Report by Caren McPate

THE festive season can be one of the toughest times for people battling alcohol, drug and gambling problems but help is at hand.

The Addiction Recovery Centre, based in the Townhead area of Kirkintilloch, is available to offer help and support to addicts and their families throughout the holiday period and beyond. Seamus Harkin, co-ordinator at the centre, said:

"This can be a difficult time for people with addictions and it can destroy families.

"But we are here for them 24/7 and I would urge them to get in touch."

Over the festive season drop-in sessions at the centre run Monday to Friday, from noon to 3pm, and a social night is being held there on Hogmanay, from 8pm.

This time of year can be fraught with temptation, but those who are struggling with an addiction have been urged to contact the centre.

A recovery meeting will take place on New Year's Day from 7.30pm-9.30pm. The Addiction Recovery Centre was recently presented with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

The award is the group equivalent of an MBE. The award is presented to groups of volunteers who work in their local community for the benefit of others.

To contact the Addiction Recovery Centre's 24-hour support line call 0141 776 3887.

Addiction centre honoured

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 14th December 2011.

Royal Award Presentation

WELL DONE: East Dunbartonshire Council's Provost Eric Gotts, Lord Lieutenant Michael Gregory, Seamus Harkin and Council leader Rhondda Geekie.

AN addiction centre based in Kirkintilloch has been presented with a major award. The Addiction Recovery Centre received The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - the group equivalent of an MBE.

The Queen's representative, Lord Lieutenant Rear Admiral Michael Gregory OBE, presented the accolade to Seamus Harkin, co-ordinator of the centre during a civic reception hosted at Tom Johnston House.

Lord Lieutenant Gregory said: "It was a great pleasure to present this Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to such a thoroughly deserving organisation."

The Addiction Recovery Centre provides help and support for people battling against alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling addiction.

Seamus Harkin said: "It is an honour for us to receive The Queen's Award for the work we do at the centre. I would like to thank East Dunbartonshire Council and the Council for Voluntary Service for their support."

Council leader Rhondda Geekie, who nominated the centre for the honour, said: "This is an exceptional organisation lead by Seamus Harkin who does an extraordinary amount of work and always goes that extra mile."

Addiction centre gets Royal seal of approval

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 15th June 2011. Report by Caren McPate

Royal Award

Royal Award: Seamus is pictured with some of those who benefit from the service at the centre

An addiction centre based in Kirkintilloch has received a major award.

Since it opened in 2002, the Addiction Recovery Centre has provided help and support for thousands of people battling against alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling addiction.

Now the centre, in Townhead, is to receive The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service the group equivalent to an MBE.

The award is presented to groups of volunteers who work in their local community for the benefit of others.

The honour comes after nine years of hard work by the centre, which this year alone has had more than 20,000 visits from people and their families faced with addiction issues.

Seamus Harkin (63), co ordinator of the centre, started the project with his wife Annabel, who are both recovering alcoholics.

Seamus said: "We are absolutely thrilled and grateful to receive this prestigious honour for the work we do for any family member facing addiction issues in the East Dunbartonshire area.

"It puts us in a stronger position to help more people.

"I had to keep the news of the award a secret for two weeks when I really wanted to tell the world."

The Addiction Recovery Centre is one of 130 organisations to receive The Queen's Award and was selected from 413 groups nominated throughout the UK.


It's more good news for the project, which recently received an award from East Dunbartonshire Provost Eric Gotts for its work in empowering people's lives through the addiction centre.

The centre provides recovery support from addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling not only for the addict, but also their family members.

Its programme is based on total abstinence from an addiction and is focused at empowering people to identify their problems and work on a solution. The centre, which is opened all year round, has helped people as young as 17 years old and one of their oldest clients was 93.

Rhondda Geekie, leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, nominated the centre for the award. She said: "Seamus does an extraordinary amount of work and goes that extra mile. He is so unassuming and is making such a difference."

The group will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire.

Kids self-harm horror

Daily Mail Mon 25th Janauary 2010.

MORE than 7000 cases of children who were admitted to hospital after self-harming have been recorded during the past decade.

Among over-16s, the figure tops 160,000, according to the Scottish Government.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Ross Finnie obtained the "astonishing" statistics through a Parliamentary answer.

He said "That so many people have self-harmed to such an extent that hospital treatment was required is a desparate cry for help and ministers must respond. Over 10 years, mental health support has increasingly been provided in the community.

"But an Audit Scotland report last year warned there are long waits to access certain services."

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said an extra £5.5million would be invested in mental health services by 2011-12.

She said "We're aware of the extent of the issue of self-harming and are committed to tackling this."

Drink and drugs advice so vital at this time

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 23rd December 2009.

AN addiction recovery coordinator has 'begged' those with drink and drug problems to seek help before they ruin Christmas and New Year for themselves and their loved ones.

Seamus Harkin, who manages the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre, said: "This is the worst time of year for people with addictions and it's terrible to think of the number of Christmas Days which will be destroyed.

"Families will open their presents and have a lovely dinner only for it to be ruined by the illness, whether it be alcohol or drugs.

"December and January are our busiest months because people can justify it easier in their minds when everybody else is celebrating and indulging.

"It is important for people to realise that it is an illness, not just an addiction, and that it is not a hopeless situation."

Help is at hand at the centre, which is open from noon-3pm, Monday to Thursday, over the festive period, with a 24-hour telephone line available.

And the centre also welcomes families or the partner of someone with an addiction.

Seamus, himself a recovering alcoholic, said: "I'd beg them to have the courage to pick up the phone or walk up our stairs. No-one will judge them and it doesn't matter what has happened in the past."

He added that the drug problem is still growing both locally and nationally, and shows no signs of abating.

He said: "It is crazy what's happening in Scotland and it's certainly getting worse in Kirkintilloch. "

You can visit the centre at 29 Townhead or call 0141 776 3887.


MSP Stuart praises work done at addiction centre

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 13th August 2008.

AN MSP visited the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre last week to find out more about the vital service.

West of Scotland MSP Stuart McMillan spent two hours at the centre speaking to volunteers and former addicts about their experiences. Mr McMillan is a member of the cross-party group at the Scottish Parliament looking at drugs and alcohol misuse.

He said: "Drugs are a major issue, not just for Kirkintilloch, but for the whole of Scotland. I have visited various projects and I am very impressed by the work going on here. This has been a real eye-opener. I have learned a great deal and there is a different approach here from other centres."

He added: "This has expanded my understanding and knowledge. When I return to the Scottish Parliament I can take part in debates with a more informed stance. The government's new change of strategy is more in tune with what is going on here at the centre. The work they do here is excellent and it helps many people in the community."

Centre co-ordinator Seamus Harkin thanked Mr McMillan for taking the time to visit the centre and urged him to report back to the cross-party group about the work being done.

He added: "It is nice to see people in power coming to see what is going on at the coal face of the problem here at the centre. We want to help change the government's strategy for addiction in a more positive way in Scotland."

Stuart McMillan

MSP Stuart McMillan is pictured with Seamus Harkin and members of the centre.

Goldie praises work done by addiction recovery centre

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 25th June 2008. Report by Katy Whitelaw

Annabel Goldie

IMPRESSED: Annabel Goldie is pictured with Seamus Harkin, volunteers and their family members at the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre.

The leader of the Scottish Conservative Party has praised the work of Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre.

Annabel Goldie, MSP for the West of Scotland, heard first-hand accounts from former addicts and spoke to volunteers about the work of the centre during a two hour visit on Monday.

The visit follows the launch of the Scottish Government's new drugs policy: 'The Road to Recovery: a New Approach to Tackling Scotland's Drug Problem', which the Kirkintilloch centre has welcomed.

Ms Goldie told the Herald it was evident that the centre played a very important role in the community.

She said: "It's tremendously encouraging to find such dedicated and hard working volunteers.

"This facility has a very important role to play in service provision. It is a great success."

She added: "I have been humbled to hear about the experiences of the people here today. They have had challenges in life and that's what makes them very credible for other people seeking help.

"The work being done here is helping people to look forward to a more positive life."

The Scottish Conservative Party has given its backing to the SNP's new drug policy, which aims to focus on supporting addicts through their recovery so, ultimately, they can live drug-free.

This is a focus that the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre has always taken.

Centre co-ordinator Seamus Harkin said: "We are trying to help people get rid of the past and live a drug-free life.

"The new policy from the Scottish Government has been music to our ears.

"Hopefully Ms Goldie can use the work we are doing here as a positive model for others."

Vital cash boost for addiction recovery centre

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 7th May 2008.

A VITAL addiction service is celebrating a funding boost.

Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre has received a grant for £500 from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

The cash has helped the centre purchase essential computer equipment.

Centre co ordinator Seamus Harkin, said: "We are delighted to receive this grant.

"We would like to thank the Coalfields Regeneration Trust for their continued support."

Voluntary organisations in former mining areas of North Lanarkshire are being invited to apply for community grants from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

Grants can range in value from £50 to £500.

Nicky Wilson, Scottish Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, said: "We realise that a lot of organisations often have a pressing need for relatively small grants. But they are put off by having to fill in all the paperwork involved in applying for larger grants.

"Our new community grants scheme will give them access to small, but important funding which can be paid quickly through a simple application process".

For more information call the Coalfields Regeneration Trust on 01259 272 127.

Herald article prompts more addicts to contact centre

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 7th May 2008.

VOLUNTEERS at an addiction centre say an article in the Kirkintilloch Herald on cocaine use has prompted more addicts to seek help.

Seven cocaine addicts contacted the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre for advice within 48 hours of the Herald going to press last week.

In our exclusive report, centre coordinator Seamus Harkin described a cocaine problem that has grown so bad in East Dunbartonshire that a dedicated meeting group has been set up to help addicts.

Seamus said: "I would like to thank the Herald for highlighting this issue.

"We are delighted that these people have come forward to seek help.

"Those with a cocaine addiction should not feel isolated.

"There are other people in the same boat they can speak to about what they are experiencing.

"I would urge them to contact the centre and they can speak to one of our volunteers in confidence."

Twenty-two cocaine addicts attended the first meeting at the centre a month ago.

The number of attendees, mainly aged between 20 - 35, has risen gradually week by week. Volunteers at the centre say the class A drug is now more common than heroin in the district.

To contact the Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre call 0141 776 3887.

Recovery centre is here to help

Kirkintilloch Herald Wed 19th Dec 2007. Report Katy Whitelaw

ENJOYING a tipple is normal for many during the festive season, but for those with an addiction and their families it can be the toughest time of year.

Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre is open 365 days a year and offers help to people with gambling, alcohol and drug addictions.

Staff at the centre are preparing for the busy period ahead.

Centre manager Seamus Harkin said: -This is a difficult time of year for people with addictions. There is a lot of pressure on them and everything can feel magnified.

"Some people out there will take alcohol or drugs on Christmas Eve and miss Christmas Day - it is sad for them and their family.

"Alternatively, people may have gambled away all their savings and have nothing left for gifts. It's a very stressful time of year.

"There are temptations everywhere and when you see everyone else getting merry you think you want to be part of that, but people with addictions know where it will land them."

Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre is running a 24-hour helpline over Christmas and New Year.

Seamus, who is himself a recovering alcoholic, said: 'We are busier at this time of year. People arrive screaming inside for a drink, but we can offer them help.

"January is also a busy time for us. That's when a lot of people who have destroyed Christmas and New Year for themselves and their families come to see us."

He added: "Christmas is just another day to live sober and we urge people to pick up the phone before they pick up drink or drugs - the phone is easier to put down."

The centre also welcomes families or the partner of someone with an addiction, to come along for support.

Seamus added: "It can be really difficult and harrowing to watch someone you love going through an addiction, but by coming to the centre you can meet people who have had similar experiences."

The Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre will be open from 12 - 3.30pm each day except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Meetings will take place each day from 7-10pm including Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

For more information or to contact the 24-hour Kirkintilloch Addiction Recovery Centre support line telephone 0141 776 3887.

Jo Swinson sees local addiction treatment work in action

Wed 16th Aug 2006

Help is near to hand for people fighting addiction problems thanks to a hard working team of local volunteers, as Jo Swinson MP witnessed when she visited Kirkintilloch's Addiction Recovery Centre today.

After holding a meeting with members of the Volunteer Management Committee including Volunteer Co-ordinator Seamus Harkin, Jo spoke to some of the people already in recovery from alcohol, drug and gambling addiction, as well as some of the families affected by these addictions.

Seamus shared with Jo that the Addiction Recovery Centre is open 365 days a year and provides support for everyone in recovery to live positive lives and become useful members of their families and local communities. The service can be contacted by telephone on (0141) 776 3887 or calling into the centre between 12pm and 3pm daily. Visitors will normally be seen within half an hour of first contact.

Jo said: "Addiction comes in many forms, from alcohol, to drugs, to gambling. It can devastate lives and families, and requires intensive support to overcome.

"The good news is that a high standard of support is available to people in East Dunbartonshire, provided by the Addiction Recovery Centre. Its dedicated volunteers have first-hand experience of overcoming addiction problems, and can give the help and support needed to allow people suffering from addictions to recover fully, improving the quality of life for them and their families."

The Kirkintilloch Herald's New Year's Honours Awards winners

Tue 2nd Mar 2004

EVERY year hundreds of people across the country are honoured by the Queen for a variety of reasons.

Yet many local people never receive the recognition they deserve for a whole host of admirable acts of courage, kindness and community work. The Herald linked up with ntl to pay tribute to those ordinary people in our community who deserve to be singled out for their extraordinary achievements.

We called on Herald readers to name anyone that they thought was worthy of a New Year's Honour, and we received a host of nominations for the list of six categories including...

Category Two: Making a Difference

Winner: The Addiction Recovery Centre (represented by Seamus Harkin)

Nominated by: many

Comments included: "There is a great atmosphere and always a person on hand to listen. It is a true asset to the community"; "The centre has helped me become a worthy human being again"; "It has got me off the street and off drugs and drink- I don't know where I'd be without the centre"; "The staff are selfless in wanting to help people, with no bounds"; "For helping me back on the road to recovery"; "The centre gave me the courage to face my life without drink or drugs"; "This place has changed people's lives for the better and I would be lost without it"; "The centre sees me as a normal person again".

New Year Honour

Live a free spirit, not a victim

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

The Queen's Award
for Voluntary Service
The MBE for volunteer groups
JUNE 2011

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