CANDLELIGHT MARCH MARKS SOARING DRUGS DEATHS

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The Rev Brian Casey, a former police officer, is organising the march.

Nearly 1,200 wooden crosses representing people whose deaths were connected to drugs are being planted in a church garden.

The memorial at Springburn Parish Church in Glasgow is a stark reminder of the toll that substances continue to take on families and communities.

Statistics show that there were 1,187 drugs related deaths in Scotland in 2018, up 27% on the previous year. The death rate is higher than any other EU country.

The handmade crosses, which are around  seven inches tall, were made by former addicts in recovery and will be planted ahead of a candlelight march through the streets of Springburn to remember all those who tragically lost their lives.

Around 300 people, including elected politicians and those campaigning for seats in the House of Commons, are expected to take part along with public sector workers and representatives from Police Scotland.

The church bells will toll as they process in sombre reflection as calls for a different approach to tackle the scourge grow.

The Rev Brian Casey, minister of Springburn Parish Church, said drug addiction must be treated as a public health emergency.

He revealed that around a third of the 500 funerals he has conducted over the last five years were drugs related.

Mr Casey, a former police officer, said: “The time has come to break the stigma that drugs related deaths are always self-inflicted. Addiction can affect anyone and most families will have experience of it.

“The walk will show that we all want change and improvement that leads to a drop in drug deaths and more understanding and facilities to help those who are living with addiction.”

The wooden cross memorial is the centrepiece of a day of action organised by Springburn Parish Church and Favor UK, a charity that supports people with drug addiction and campaigns for change.

It has published a report which contains 23 recommendations on how to improve the current drugs issue.  It has been presented to the Scottish Government.

The candlelight march is expected to start at 4.30pm.

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