Our services


CARDS (Community Alcohol Related Damage Service) is a befriending service which provides emotional health and social networks to service users through volunteers. CARDS has an active partnership with the NHS Alcohol Referral Unit based at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. This allows us to build relationships with people who are enduring a health crisis related to alcohol, before they return to the community.

What does CARDS do?

CARDS service is driven by the input of over 50 volunteers. We utilise the breadth of unique life experiences to match up each individual who comes to us for support, with somebody who meets all of the criteria that they have stated will enable them to get the most out of the relationship.

It’s a simple formula, but it works because it is based around what the individual thinks is best for themselves, not the service. Our volunteer pool includes students, retirees, people in recovery from addictions themselves, and even some Social Care professionals who appreciate the opportunity to throw off the ‘professional’ gloves and get a chance to just BE with people. The influence of the third of our volunteers who are ‘Peer’, has served to enhance our practice. The unique life skills and insights that they bring has helped the non ‘Peer’ volunteers to learn about selfcare, appropriate sharing and the debilitating effects of stigma.

Key facts

  • Operates in the community across Edinburgh
  • Over 50 active volunteers
  • Staff member based at NHS Alcohol Liason Unit
  • Specialist in social isolation and issues related to long-term alcohol addiciton
  • Partnership with Alcohol Concern to create training for Licensed Trade

CARDS community art project

When Covid further isolated our community we launched an innovative new project to discover the self expression and resilience within us all

Since Covid, our art project has continued to build. Find out how you could be a part of it.

Training and development for the Licensed Trade

In collaboration with Alcohol Change’s Blue Light Project Rowan Alba’s CARDS have created a two hour training session aimed at supporting Bar Staff and Off-License workers. This short session is delivered by our staff and gives trainees the practical skills and knowledge to respond to challenging behaviour and high risk, change resistant drinkers.

By the end of the course participants will build an understanding of:

  • Risks associated with intoxication
  • Difficult Dangerous and Disturbing Behaviour
  • Risk Assessment and Monitoring
  • Protecting and Improving Public Health
  • Formulate a realistic intervention plan for a change resistant drinker

Our training is delivered by our highly experienced community alcohol-related damage workers. The session can be delivered by zoom, at our offices or at your premises.

If you are interested in bringing our training session to your staff, contact our team at cards@rowanalba.org

How we apply our 3 principles to CARDS


We accept that there are those that will continue to drink alcohol.

CARDS does not promote a Recovery model, or an interventionist approach.


We support people with the one thing they say that they are motivated towards, which is to be more social. As people become more social, they drink less, as they drink less they are able to be more social.


We include everyone in the conversation, service users, staff, volunteers, local and national government. We include the voices of lived experience, from those who come to us for support, and those who offer it.

Meet our team

Our team at CARDS has a huge amount of experience, both professional and lived. They are here for you, without conditions or judgement. They will use their knowledge to find a volunteer who is personally right for you.

Tracey Stewart

Service leader


Peer Support Manager


Community Development & Outreach Worker


CARDS is powered by amazing volunteers, like you!

If you are interested in the work we do at CARDS, volunteering for us could be a great way to make a real difference to the people in our community.
Just send us an email through the form below and our Volunteering team will get back to you.

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