Glasgow’s safer drug consumption facility will have room for up to 20 people when it opens later this year.

Work has started on converting the premises in the east end into space for eight injection booths and an aftercare/recovery area for another 12.

Construction is scheduled to last 24 weeks but it is hoped that can be brought forward and the service in operation this summer.

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The council and health board, through the Integrated Joint Board, has earmarked funding for the works and the Scottish Government committed to the revenue costs of the operation.

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Allan Casey, the councillor in charge of addictions policy, said it is a huge step forward in how the city deals with addictions.

He said: “This is a huge milestone on the journey to opening a safer consumption facility.”

On the 24-week timescale, he added: “We’re working to reduce that, to open as soon as possible.

“This summer is the ambition and aim.”

The facility has been at least 8 years in the making and became possible following a decision by the Lord Advocate that no one would be prosecuted for using drugs in the centre.

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Casey said: “I’m overjoyed that we have managed to get to this stage. To see work begin is promising.

“It means we are moving to a more progressive policy for people with addiction.”

Recognising there are many other services required to deal with Glasgow’s drug problem and record drug death levels, he added: “It’s about how we offer the other services available when they are using the space, the relevant support services when they are ready to start reducing harm or coming off drugs.

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“It’s not going to fix the issue overnight.”

The councillor said despite the city’s budget being cut and resources scarce it was something that Glasgow can’t afford not to.

He added: “It comes at a cost. The Scottish Government has committed to the revenue costs and we have committed funds.

“We have made the case so it is hard not to give funding. We have made a case for saving lives, you can’t put a price on that.”

The manager of the alcohol and drug recovery service said the building has been designed with the needs of those who will use it at the forefront of planning.

New facilities have been added including a shower room and a clothing store as well as a smoking shelter outside.

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Lynn Macdonald, service manager, said: “We have made changes after speaking to the reference group.

“The aftercare area will be a café style space where people can interact with others or engage with staff.”

She said the aim is to move people on to other services to help with their drug use.

Ms Macdonald added: “We know there are a large number of people who do not engage with services.

“Give them a safe place to come by building trust at their own pace.

“We hope this is a route into services. We have existing services on this site. We have the complex needs team and community teams."

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She said money is not being diverted from other services, adding: “This is about expanding what we already do.

“This is a tiny part of a much bigger picture, it’s an entry point.

“It is not a problem we are creating, the problem is already in the community.”

A member of the women’s reference group, said: “As a member of Glasgow Alcohol & Drugs Partnership’s women’s lived & living experience reference group, I have been involved in the planning and design of the SDCF .

"Our views were heard and recommendations taken on board in order to make the space welcoming and comfortable but still practical.

"No one can better understand the needs of people in addiction than those who have experienced it themselves. I feel privileged to be part of this important development and look forward to being included as it continues to develop."