Turning Point 218 Service faces compulsory job losses and closure

Unite the union has today (6 September) demanded an urgent review over a £850,000 cut to funding for the Turning Point 218 Service which now threatens the existence of the ground-breaking programme.

The trade union represents the majority of the thirty workers based in Glasgow city centre. The 218 Service provided by Turning Point Scotland and Glasgow Addiction Service helps address issues with substance use, physical and mental health and other social needs including housing and childcare initiatives that female offenders face.

The service originally operated a 12 bed residential unit, and a day service programme which provides a range of compulsory and optional group work sessions and one to one support. The Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership recently conducted a review of the 218 Service, which included reducing the bed capacity from 12 to eight women.

 Now due to swinging funding cuts, there is a threat of compulsory job losses and closure of the service. The 218 Service operated with a combined budget of £1.5 million - £300,000 from Glasgow City Council and £1.2 million from the Scottish Government. Glasgow City Council withdrew £292,000 of funding in March 2023, and it has now been confirmed that the Scottish Government has further reduced funding to the service by £550,000. 

Sharon Graham Unite general secretary, said: “The decision to withdraw up to £850,000 for the 218 Service is scandalous. It comes at a juncture when figures were released over alcohol related deaths indicating an increase in Glasgow.”

“If there was ever a time to invest money into a service like this to help some of the city’s most vulnerable people it is now. Unite will back our members who are providing transformative and life-changing work all the way.”    

The decision to withdraw the funding for the 218 Service comes at a time when figures, published by National Records of Scotland, recently revealed that there were 1,276 alcohol-specific deaths registered in Scotland in 2022 – an increase of two per cent (31) on 2021. Female deaths rose by 31 to 440, with male deaths unchanged at 836. There are 4.3 times as many deaths from these causes in the most deprived communities as there are in the least deprived communities.

The increase in deaths in Glasgow was also bigger than across the nation. In Glasgow, there were 202 alcohol-specific deaths in 2022 – up from 188 the year before, constituting a rise of 7.5%. It is the highest number of deaths since 2011.

Unite regional officer Linda Wilson added: “The 218 Service does ground-breaking and essential work with women who have a range of complex needs such as addiction, trauma issues, poor mental or physical health. It’s utterly shameful that both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government believe the best way to help vulnerable women is to cut beds and slash the funding of a lifeline service by £850,000.”

“The swinging cuts to bed capacity and funding now means that the 218 Service is now itself on life-support instead of it being the invaluable life-support it has been for its users.”