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“Bulls**t”: Charity chief executive walks out of drug deaths meeting with Holyrood civil servants

This news post is 10 months old

Annemarie Ward of FAVOR UK is demanding drastic action from the Scottish Government.

A leading drugs charity campaigner has hit out at the Scottish Government, warning she will “no longer tolerate” their “bulls**t” following a heated meeting with civil servants. 

Annemarie Ward, chief executive of Faces & Voices of Recovery UK (FAVOR UK), has led calls for a new law mandating treatment, demanding radical action to tackle the ongoing drugs death crisis.

Ms Ward has accused the government of “institutional narcissism” after taking to social media to reveal she walked out of a meeting with civil servants for the “first time ever” as frustration grows over the handling of the emergency.

The meeting in questions was an online call discussing the Lived Experience Collaborative - which she branded a “long grass committee”.

The meeting was reportedly to discuss FAVOR UK participating in the collaborative, which Ms Ward claims she initially pitched to the government.

The chief executive has said the government has taken on the idea themselves and was now seeking participation from the charity, despite FAVOR drawing up a series of proposals for officials over 11 months. 

Ms Ward has now warned the current version has been “watered down” and has “no teeth”.

Speaking to The Scottish Sun, she said: “Not only do they want us to participate in something we created, but they want us to do it for free. We are two months away from closure.”

After the meeting Ms Ward wrote on Twitter: “I walked out of a work meeting today with Scottish Government officials. First time ever in my whole career that I have walked out, saying I can no longer tolerate this level of bulls**t.

“I don’t have the emotional capacity anymore to play the long game.”

She claimed that civil servant said if FAVOR were not participating they could not influence the collective.

Ms Ward raised concerns that government quangos “will put forward their people, so the whole of conversation will be framed by the government”.

She told the newspaper: “I thought no, now they are trying to set my people against me. This is gaslighting, this is institutional narcissism.

“I said to my staff that I can no longer tolerate this.”

Figures released last week show that 1,330 Scots died drug-related deaths in 2021 - the second highest annual total on record and a drop of just nine from the previous year.

Charities have said that deaths remain at crisis levels and have urged against complacency from the government.  

A Scottish Government spokesman told the Scottish Sun: “We are putting the voices of lived experience at the heart of the National Mission to reduce drug-related deaths and we’ll continue to listen to those views as we strive to improve and save lives – taking action and delivering new investment to get more people into the treatment which works for them. This is vital to our human-rights based approach to policymaking.

“We’re already implementing many of the recent recommendations from The Drug Deaths Taskforce and are fully focused on what can be done in Scotland under current powers. The Drugs Death Taskforce itself has recommended the UK Government should undertake a root and branch review of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“Last year, there were 511 statutory funded residential rehabilitation placements across Scotland, and we are determined to ensure we double this by 2026. We have funded nearly 200 projects via the Corra Foundation across Scotland – including grassroots organisations that have never received public funding before.”



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David Raynes
10 months ago

The Scottish administration is STILL seeking excuses for Scotlands appalling drugs deaths, the call for the Misuse of Drugs Act to be "root and branch reviewed" is just that and a "long grass kicking" myopic attitude if ever there was one. It is not the drugs legislation that is at fault, it is Scotlands drugs advisors, civil servants and politicians. Drugs and alcohol deaths in Scotland stem from a long term problematic, cultural attitude to substance misuse. Legal or illegal.

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Simon Lee
10 months ago

Well done Annemarie. What would happen if we all refused to play these civil servant games of endless talking and no action? Govt, local authorities, NHS, Govt Agencies; officers on comfortable salaries and talk and talk and don't do and don't do while we melt and bubble away in a froth of frustration. Well done Annemarie.