William and Kate hear about pioneering work to support addicts

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spoken to recovering drug addicts who have returned to the streets to help support those who have suffered near-fatal overdoses.

William and Kate were reunited in Scotland for the first time during the duke’s tour of the country when they visited a leading social care charity helping to tackle issues like substance abuse and mental health, and break cycles of crime and addiction.

The couple visited Turning Point Scotland’s (TPS) centre in the town of Coatbridge and heard during a video call how its ground-breaking Glasgow overdose response team (GORT) is helping to save lives.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Neil Richardson, chief executive of Turning Point Scotland (Phil Noble/PA

Speaking to recovering users, William said the key turning point often comes “When somebody else (is) taking actual proper interest in your life”.

He went on to say: “Of course, so many times people come and go, don’t they, when you’re looking for help, and you get sent to God knows how many different organisations, and you get passed to the next one.

“But what is crucial is how you capture that big net in one go that really matters, which is what you guys do here.”

One of TPS’s team helped develop GORT after the death of two close friends, and he highlighted in the video call how bootlegged sedatives known as “street benzos” are a growing problem and can be 50 times more powerful then previous batches.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour of Scotland
William and Kate were reunited in Scotland for the first time during the duke’s tour of the country (Phil Noble/PA)

Neil Richardson, chief executive of Turning Point Scotland, said the drugs became prevalent during the pandemic.

“People were using pill presses, that were creating all sorts of cocktails of horribleness, and people were dying as a result. There were various episodes where you see spikes in deaths.”

William and Kate, who was wearing a royal blue Zara blazer and skirt by Hope, were told that under the GORT initiative frontline workers and recovering addicts were providing real-time crisis support for people who have experienced a near fatal overdose.

Funded by, and developed in partnership with, the Drug Deaths Taskforce, the service began operating in December 2020 and has quickly delivered highly promising early results, leading to a planned fast-tracked rollout of services to other regions in Scotland.