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Charities join forces to take fresh approach to help addiction in the Highlands

By Val Sweeney

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Clarity Walk founder Matt Wallace.
Clarity Walk founder Matt Wallace.

A partnership between two charitable organisations is helping more people get out and about and improve their mental wellbeing.

Matt Wallace from Clarity Walk is working with Debbie Smith from the Salvation Army in Inverness to help those recovering from drug and alcohol issues by providing an hour’s escape with a ‘no phone’ nature walk.

The project started in mid-September, will last for six weeks and hopes to help people build positive connections.

Mr Wallace said: "There is often a negative stigma attached to those suffering with drug and alcohol issues and Clarity Walk wants to help break that stigma by supporting those who want to recover.

"One of the biggest issues for people trying to recover is their social circle is influenced by others who are still ‘using,’ so Clarity Walk wants to help them build a new social circle that is healthier and helps them achieve what they want by becoming clean of drugs and alcohol."

The aim is to provide support, reduce anxiety, build healthier connections and provide a positive alternative to drug use to improve recovery. Over six weeks, it involves taking a small group to a beautiful scenic location to simply walk and talk without the phone for one hour.

Mr Wallace continued: "After the project, users of the service can join Clarity Walk’s community walks for ongoing recovery support as a sustainable method of recovery in collaboration with the Salvation Army.

"The walks have already proven to dramatically reduce anxiety, encourage regular exercise, build positive connections and help people discover the beauty of the Highlands."

A service user, who did not want to be named, said: "Coming off drugs and drink has being a lot easier than I thought it would be using Clarity Walk and the Salvation Army’s Connections group as I am now surrounding myself with people who support me, and I feel great physically with more energy, I feel fitter and I feel healthier from getting off drugs and doing lots of walking in nature.

"If I knew I would feel this good by becoming clean it would have helped me when I tried to come off before."

Ms Smith said: "Anyone can join in with the Connections SMART recovery group. We are here to help.

"Anyone joining in person will be asked to sign in for Track and Trace.

"Alternatively, contact me via Debbie.Smith@salvationarmy.org.uk for an online link to join the meeting remotely. Anyone who joins online can remain anonymous or they can share their name.

"We are following a programme that can be joined at any time."

Clarity Walk wants to do similar six-week projects with other charities and groups to help improve mental health and build connections at this time.

Anyone wanting further information on the project should contact matt@claritywalk.co.uk.

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