After 43 years of working in West Dunbartonshire, there are few local charities with the organisational memory, knowledge and experience which Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol (DACA) can bring to the community.
Our AGMs are always a timely reminder of this as we welcome back past and present clients, colleagues, volunteers, Board members, partners and funders.
This year was an opportunity to reflect on both the successes and challenges we have encountered in 2018 and share some of our plans for the future.
One of the biggest hurdles we face at present is the number of people who are referred to the service but don’t make it in to attend an appointment. This isn’t a new problem; we’ve always been challenged by this. But our budgets are tighter and our services are busier, and we’re really feeling the impact of missed appointments at the moment.
So we’ve put in place several measures to try and address this, including our new START service. This provides a rapid triage response to anyone seeking support with their drinking, which allows us to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ and get people appointed very quickly.
We’re also directing people to our Open Social Drop-ins — including our Wednesday evening Supper Club in Dumbarton. These groups are light touch and unbureaucratic, offering people support in a very gentle and unconditional way. People who use these groups can give as well as receive support and encouragement, meaning that the groups have become stand-alone recovery communities. Our team love being part of the development of these compassionate communities.
So with the combination of a swift professional response and regular peer support, we hope that accessing our services is becoming easier for anyone looking to reduce their drinking. And we hope we’ll see an increase in new people coming over our threshold in the coming year.
Every year at DACA, we support around 400 people in direct service provision, and, on average, around 80% of these people enjoy a positive outcome in their recovery goals.
But research shows that 1 in 4 people are drinking above the government’s low risk guidelines — in West Dunbartonshire that’s close to 20,000 adults.
There are also at least 3,600 people in our community who are alcohol-dependent or drinking at hazardous levels — and we are only seeing a fraction of them.
Despite delivering a service in Dumbarton since 1976 and in Clydebank from the early 1990s we know we need to raise the organisation’s profile to reach different audiences.
To this end we will be doing more community events and improving our digital and social media presence in the coming year. We will also be making our Clydebank office more physically accessible.
We’ve always had a wide range of services for people to choose from because we recognise that no single approach will suit everyone when it comes to tackling alcohol problems. Now we’re adding in a range of engagement methods for the same reason. We hope that by using a mix of community events, word of mouth and digital/social media, we’ll open our doors to more people who need us.
This year we introduced a new Steps to Wellbeing service. We have two therapists providing a range of complementary therapy treatments from both our Dumbarton and Clydebank offices every week. We pioneered this approach to tackling alcohol problems back in the 1990s but funding this service has been an ongoing challenge.
We’re delighted that at the start of the year the Board agreed to fund a one-year pilot from our reserves and we will be monitoring its impact as the year progresses.
Our Steps to Recovery project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund for five years completed its first full operational year offering a wide range of groups and activities from yoga to kayaking, craft-making to creative writing.
It was a pleasure to showcase some of our clients’ creative talents at the AGM, and craftwork also made a perfect leaving gift for Julie Lusk, the Head of Service for Addictions in West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, who we said goodbye to at the AGM as she moves on to a new career challenge in another locale.
At the end of the meeting, our chairman David Wilson presented some of our clients’ handiwork, along with a bunch of flowers to Julie who has been a good friend of DACA over the years and will be greatly missed.
Digital copies of our annual report are available to download from www.daca.org.uk or contact us on 01389 731456 if you would prefer a print version to be sent to you.