THE Hebrides Alpha Project, which offers supported accommodation and a rehabilitation programme for islanders recovering from addiction, has received £15,000 from wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.
The money is the first instalment of the £30,000 which Hebrides Alpha will get every year.
It amounts to nearly half the money staff have to raise themselves every year, on top of public funding, to keep the project going.
The Hebrides Alpha Project is a charity which has been running since 2006. The residential unit in Upper Coll opened in 2011and incorporates an in-house recovery programme for up to six people at a time with serious addiction.
Its subsidiary is Hebrides Alpha Trading, which offers window cleaning and other services to also provide therapeutic employment for people with addiction problems.
The Hebrides Alpha programme requires residents to spend two days a week in therapeutic employment, geared towards improving their job prospects, and some of them choose to work with Hebrides Alpha Trading.
It also requires people to attend a community self-help group, either Alcoholics Anonymous or Road to Recovery, twice a week. Research has found self-help groups to be particularly effective.
The programme also offers one-to-one counselling but detox always begins in the community, under nursing care.
Shona Macleod, manager at the Hebrides Alpha Project, said they were “so grateful” for the support from Point and Sandwick Trust, which will go towards revenue costs such as salaries, administration and travel.
“The money is so appreciated,” she said. “It is an incredible contribution to this project and the wind farm trust really are contributing to people’s lives in this community.
“The money has impacted very positively and it means that we can continue to run the service and can continue to take residents in who have serious alcohol and drug dependencies in addition to other psychological and practical problems.”
Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween said: “Hebrides Alpha was one of the key projects identified in our community development plan.
“The Western Isles has one of the highest incidents of alcohol and drug use in the UK and Hebrides Alpha are providing a much-needed rehabilitation service, available locally for the first time.”
The importance of the Hebrides Alpha Project — where people can live for six months to a year – cannot be overstated.
A social worker and counsellor, Shona said: “I believe some people’s lives have been saved, literally. There’s a number of residents we’ve had whose chances of dying if they didn’t come in to the unit have been significantly high.
“There are so many medical complications which result from continual substance use. It is very damaging to both physical and mental health.”
Reverend Tommy MacNeil is chair of the board of directors. He said: “We are obviously delighted to be one of the beneficiaries of the work that Point and Sandwick are doing.”
He sees a common element of “renewal” between the business of Point and Sandwick Power, with its Beinn Ghrideag wind farm, and the positive impact on people’s lives from the work of the Hebrides Alpha Project.
“I can definitely see a match in terms of what Point and Sandwick are doing in terms of harnessing the physical element and affording us the opportunity to help people get a new beginning in their lives.
“The support that we’re receiving will not only help the individuals but it’s got the wider impact of helping and supporting their families too.”
Pointing to other beneficiaries of Point and Sandwick Trust, such as Bethesda Care Home and Hospice, he said: “There’s a tremendous impact being made on the lives of lots and lots of people which I think is to be highly commended.”
Hebrides Alpha Project appreciates even small monthly donations. If anyone would like to support the project, telephone 01851 820830.
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