Fife clubs are helping to tackle social isolation

The Kirkcaldy Curnie Club.
The Kirkcaldy Curnie Club.

Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS) is helping to tackle social isolation and loneliness in the Kingdom’s communities with Curnie Clubs.

The initiative has been running since 2016 with groups in Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Methil, Cupar, Dunfermline – and it recently expanded in Cowdenbeath and a second group in Glenrothes.

Donald Grieve.

Donald Grieve.

Curnie Clubs support people who are socially isolated in the community, and help to develop their social skills and confidence with the aim to improve their quality of life.

Members also benefit from professional therapeutic group work that allows natural attributes, skills and abilities to emerge and be recognised.

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Lee Mathieson.

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The aim is they become self-sufficient and self-sustaining, achieving personal development through peer support and new-found friendships.

Donald Grieve, project manager, said: “There are people who attend the clubs who go from sitting in the house alone and unable to leave, to going into employment.

David Webster.

David Webster.

“Sometimes you don’t need tablets from the doctor and sometimes you don’t need the job centre pushing you – sometimes all you need is an understanding ear.

“Myself and all my staff are counsellors, but we don’t sit and counsel people.
“We use these skills to bring people on, and to get down to the root of their fears, so we can build a plan around that and get them mobile again.

“What we are doing here is creating a safe environment where people can be themselves – a place where it is okay to make mistakes.”
The clubs host a number of activities and sessions – one of the more popular is about the process of change, and how this is where issues start. It then goes on to think about what is actually happening and what actions people can make to affect change.

Added Donald: “A very powerful part of this process is when people start to look at what has influenced them in their lives, so inevitably they can discover the reasons why they became isolated.”

Lee Mathieson from Kirkcaldy has been attending the Curnie Club in the town for 10 months and attributes her recent successes to Donald and his team.

She said: “I have mental health issues and adult ADHD, it got to the stage where I had isolated myself from everybody because I couldn’t cope with my illness.

“I was isolated for about three years, and the longer that went on, the worse it made my mental health.

“I was referred to the Curnie Club by my doctor.

“I thought what else have I got to lose and went along to check it out.

“I had no confidence, but the club helped me get some of that back, I’m able to leave the house now and I have made some new friends.

“Donald and the rest of the team have been absolutely brilliant.”

David Webster from Cupar has been visiting the Curnie Clubs for a year and is now training to be a volunteer.

David said: “I have suffered from depression and anxiety issues, and drug and alcohol abuse, with help from the club I have come a long way in combating these issues.

“My life was on a downward spiral for a while, and it came to the point where I didn’t leave the house in over a month.

“A friend suggested the Curnie Club, so I phoned Donald and he said I should pop in.

“It was quite a big step for me, but I went and it has helped me a lot. If I have any issues it is really good to be able to speak to team members who will help me to sort it out.

“I’m training to be a volunteer with the club, so what I am doing is going around all the different clubs getting to know everyone.

“I feel lucky that I found the club. It has helped me to realise my potential. I can’t wait to start giving back.”