DAPL has helped Fifers turn their lives around for 25 years

A sharp rise in unemployment due to the decline of the local coal industry had a major impact on Levenmouth.

By Julie Currie
Saturday, 24th August 2019, 9:05 am

Problematic substance misuse was on the rise and there were no local services to tackle the issue.

So professionals in the field held a meeting in Buckhaven in 1993 in a bid to come up with a solution.

And in August 1994, the Drug and Alcohol Project (Levenmouth) was born, using funding from the Urban Programme, to provide much needed support.

Now celebrating its 25th year, DAPL has had a few name changes in the interim – since 2016 being called Drugs, Alcohol and Psychotherapies Limited.

But it’s most commonly known simply as DAPL to the many Fifers who have used its services over the years.

For while it was first founded in Levenmouth, the organisation has also extended its reach in the intervening years to cover the whole of the Kingdom.

In the last 25 years, DAPL has received more than 18,000 referrals for adult counselling and 8000 for young people.

It’s no exaggeration to say that it has helped to turn many lives around.

And it’s for that reason that the 25th anniversary is being seen as a cause for celebration by its dedicated members of staff, volunteers and patrons – actor Clive Russell, who is originally from Leven, and well-known charity worker Eleanor Bowman.

An open invitation has been extended to the public to toast DAPL’s good work on Friday, August 30, in its headquarters at Parkdale Avenue in Leven from 10am to noon – where the team has been based since 1997.

Undoubtedly, Martin Denholm will be among those celebrating.

He has worked with the service for an incredible 20 years, initially as a volunteer and now as service manager.

Martin said: “What DAPL has done from the very beginning is focus on the community that it serves.

“So it’s only fitting that we invite the community along to celebrate with us.

“In the very early days, we only had two project workers who saw up to 20 people every week.

“Now, we see more than 300 people every week, with a team of 22 workers, including admin and the management team.

“DAPL started back in 1994 because there was a concern about drug-related deaths and recent statistics show that Scotland still has the worst record in Europe.

“That is now a growing concern for communities here in Fife and across Scotland as a whole.

“Sadly, our work is far from done yet. Poverty and austerity are not going to disappear overnight so the impact of that on people in our communities is not going to change quickly either.

“However, we have helped many, many people who have come through our doors over the years and watched them turn their lives around.

“Our message is one of hope and that’s something we should celebrate.

“We’d rather there was no need for a service to support people in distress.

“But as long as the need is there, DAPL will continue to work at the heart of local communities here in Fife to offer the support that is clearly much-needed.”

The day after the birthday bash is International Drug Overdose Awareness Day – and that’s no coincidence.

Martin explained: “We chose to host our event on August 30 for that reason.

“We don’t believe it’s acceptable for people to die – every drug death is preventable.

“And we have a dedicated team of people who work tirelessly to try to prevent harm from substance misuse, including deaths.

“But we can’t do what we do in isolation, which is why it’s important to celebrate with the many partners in Fife who have supported DAPL and the community which has been behind us every step of the way.”

Having worked with DAPL for 20 years, Martin has witnessed many amazing transformations.

And he takes heart from the fact that some of those people have returned to try to help others.

He added: “Many people are able to tackle their own demons and come back to us fully recovered, eager to help other people in a similar situation to them.

“I think that speaks volumes about the service we provide here and about the many successes we’ve enjoyed over the years.

“Our reach has extended across Fife over the years to meet demand.

“It was born in this community and remains deeply rooted within it.”

A brief history of this unique service

In August 1994, the aim of Drug and Alcohol Project (Levenmouth) was: “To provide a confidential, community-based counselling, support, information and advice service to individuals, their families and friends who are affected by substance misuse.”

Initially based in Buckhaven, it moved in 1997 to its current HQ in Parkdale. Around this time DAPL also started to work with local secondary schools providing drug and alcohol awareness sessions.

In 1998 DAPL was successful in securing funding from the Lloyds TSB Foundation to provide a counselling service to young people. It was one of only four agencies in Scotland to have a dedicated youth counsellor at the time.

The charity produced an innovative information pack in 2002 to raise awareness of solvent abuse, one of the first of its kind in Scotland. That same year, the project achieved Investor in People status and expanded into Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes.

In 2006 DAPL’s young person service expanded to Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes. By 2007 DAPL was also seeing clients in North East Fife.

It became a company limited by guarantee in 2009 and changed its name to Drug and Alcohol Project Limited to reflect its Fife-wide status. Further that year, DAPL was the first organisation in Fife to have its counselling service accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

In 2016 DAPL changed its name to Drugs, Alcohol and Psychotherapies Limited. Today the charity provides counselling and support for adults and young people affected by substance misuse – either their own or a family member’s – across Fife.

To find out more. visit www.dapl.net/home.