Recovering drug addict Jamie polishes off breakfast at Dundee’s R&R Cafe as the laughter of kids echoes around the church hall.
He has tried twice to kick his heroin habit and, asked if he thinks he can beat it this time, the former mechanic shrugs and says quietly, “Aye, maybe third time lucky…”
Jamie was one of the visitors to the Revive and Restore Cafe which opens every Friday at Coldside Parish Church for a regular bite to eat and a cuppa.
It is one of a host of city venues providing drop-in services. Known as The Recovery Cafe, this centre is one of the most popular and successful.
It has just celebrated its fifth anniversary, which was marked in style by the volunteers and army of services offering support and advice, in a city gripped by a drug addiction crisis.
There are success stories like Liam Benson, 31, who was a homeless alcoholic but has now recovered and acts as a volunteer at the cafe.
He has also just scooped a certificate for food and health as he points to drug charity Positive Steps which offers its services at the cafe as the main factor in his recovery.
Liam said: “This place is like a life saver for me.
“I was an alcoholic, really bad, and homeless. I was living in and out of hostels, but then I met the people from Positive Steps.
“It has been really good for me and it has kept me on the straight and narrow. I have just got my certificate for health and food hygiene which is great.”
Liam added: “And I started volunteering in the kitchen here at the Recovery Cafe since well before Christmas. When I first came here I was nervous, but they made me really welcome. There is no stigma.”
But for Jamie, a 28-year-old former mechanic from the city, he is still battling and frankly admitted: “I am still on heroin and vallies (Valium).
“But with the help of the Recovery Cafe people it feels like I am beginning to win. Hopefully, this time I will.”
Jamie told of how he first engaged with the group: “I was sitting outside Tesco in Dundee, begging. A lassie came up to me and asked us to come to the Recovery Cafe.
“I was homeless at the time and sleeping on the streets, but when I came in here I got help and a placement in a hostel.
“I am off the streets now and hopefully things will get better.
“I got on it just by smoking heroin once – just to see what it was like.
“But once it’s got a grab of you there’s no getting away from it.
“I am working with Tracy (from Positive Steps) and she’s helping me a lot to beat it.”
The centre has that club spirit about the place, almost like an unofficial family. Everyone is supporting those who drop in.
Positive Steps is just one of the services providing support and advice through harm reduction safety nurse, Tracy Garty, and Rachel Prophet, a supporter worker.
They have encouraged lots of people to attend the cafe .
Both agreed that a two-pronged move on drug abuse and mental health issues could help tackle addiction.
The drugs crisis in Dundee and subsequent death toll has sparked calls for action.
An emotional visitor to the R&R Cafe dabbed her eyes recalling the city’s tragedies and said: “Dundee is broken and it’s time we got together and fixed it.”
But one of the strongest weapons is the cafe, underlined by a book at the door asking what a visitor gets from it. Poignantly someone wrote simply: “Hope”.