LEAP Celebrates 300th Graduation

LEAP (Lothians & Edinburgh Abstinence Programme) has celebrated its 300th patient graduation since launching in September 2007.

Gail Richardson, 50, is the 300th patient to complete the three-month, community based rehabilitation programme. She was congratulated and presented with a certificate by Sarah Boyack MSP for Lothian, at today’s ceremony (11 January).

LEAP is the first abstinence programme of its type in Scotland, which operates seven days a week and provides structured support for those who want to conquer addictions to substances like alcohol and drugs.

Gail has tried to beat her alcoholism for much of her adult life, having lived through two violent marriages, a failed business, an eviction, homelessness, depression and drug use.

She explains: “I wasn’t happy so I thought rehab might be the answer. It was like a sudden realisation that I had to do it for myself, no-one else would. I had to take responsibility.”

Since being admitted to LEAP last October, Gail acknowledges that her life has been transformed thanks to the project. She says: “It has changed my life. It has given me a real focus. From here I will go into supported accommodation and then I hope I can find a permanent housing solution.”

While on the intensive programme, LEAP participants receive clinical medical and therapeutic help as well as support with accommodation, education, training and employment opportunities.

LEAP is funded by NHS Lothian and three local Alcohol Drug Partnerships and is operated in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council and Access to Industry (Transition).

Sarah Boyack MSP said: “Gail’s graduation today marks the fantastic collaborative work achieved by herself and all of those at LEAP. Well done to everyone involved and I wish Gail well for the future.”

Clinical Lead of LEAP, NHS Lothian, Dr David McCartney, said: “I’m really proud to be celebrating our 300th graduate in our first six years.

“Although LEAP is a challenging and demanding programme, it really does have long term, positive impact on not just our graduates, but their friends and families too.

“We recognise that multiple strands of support are required to conquer the often complex and deep-rooted causes of addictions, and we do this by offering services such as one-to-one counselling and self-help groups.

“We know that evidence points towards recovery being more likely where support is ongoing which is why we facilitate help with aspects like jobs and training. Recovery is a long term process and we also provide aftercare for up to two years further consolidating the hard work our patients have put in.”

In September, Friends of Leap, aimed at raising funds for the project, was launched.

Leap can be contacted on 0131 456 0221.