More must be done to help addicts and alcoholics from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities in Glasgow, according to experts.
Many who are dependent on drugs and alcohol don’t seek help for fear of being stigmatised by friends and family.
Glasgow City Council’s Community Addiction Service is now looking at ways to help people from BME communities to overcome barriers to recovery.
Head of Addictions at the Glasgow South Community Addiction Service, John Goldie, said: “We need to get that recovery message over to them. We know we’re not very good at it. We know that people don’t necessarily come to our traditional services for a whole host of reasons.”
A “conversation café” organised by charity Minority Communities Addiction Support Services (MCASS) in Pollokshields saw around 100 people meet to discuss solutions last week.
MCASS, based in Govanhill, was founded in 2012 by Naseem Wali to provide a helpline for people with addiction issues and their families.
She now receives dozens of calls every month and regularly organises events for those who need help to access existing services.
She said: “MCASS represents the BME community and we need to hear why they’re struggling, why they’re not engaging with services. We need to know what their issues are so that we can have a needs based service, perhaps going out to them and supporting them.
“Since we started in 2012 it has been slow and challenging but we are getting there. People are coming forward. The parents are coming forward. They were the hardest group to reach. They’re often living in hell too. They are coming out now and it’s good to see it happening.
“We need to see change because addiction is a growing problem in the BME community. We have around 100 people here today from BME communities, as well as different organisations. It’s great to see.”
Mr Goldie added: “Glasgow has a massively diverse population, particularly in the south. Naseem is in contact with BME people who have issues with drugs and alcohol and their families day and daily.
“What we’re beginning to explore today is how we turn it around. We want to work out what recovery would look like in terms of a BME population. It’s the beginning of that process.
“I think it’s good to have a conversation café we’re having today, which is fairly high profile, we’re not hiding away.
“There are a lot of community members here, such as Imams, who are happy to engage. A year or two ago people didn’t want to have that conversation in the open. So I think we’ve moved on greatly.”
For more information about the South Community Addiction Service BME Team, telephone 0141 420 8100.
For more information about MCASS call Naseem Wali on 07779444324.