Our Resilience Work with Young People
Why we do this
We meet thousands of young people every year who feel under a great deal of pressure, whether it be to succeed in exams, maintain relationships or to look or act in certain ways. These stresses can have a significant impact on both their physical and emotional health.
Many young people who feel stressed will seek positive ways to cope with whatever life throws at them, perhaps taking part in sports and leisure activities, meeting with friends or confiding in someone they trust.
Unfortunately, however, there are those that suffer in silence and who find other means to cope with their problems, which can mean drug or alcohol misuse.
What we do
In schools, colleges and community settings, we explain the risks associated with substance misuse through the prism of people’s real life experiences.
The aim is to help students make informed decisions about the use of drugs and alcohol and learn how to handle peer pressure and risky situations.
Our teams include people in recovery from personal challenges such as drug and/or alcohol dependency, mental health issues and experience of homelessness.
Rather than only providing information or using a ‘scare tactics’ approach, young people look at the causes and consequences of substance misuse and risky behaviours, and hear about volunteers’ own recovery and real-life experiences.
The story of our work so far
Our resilience work with young people is always changing. We collaborate with other charities and organisations to develop new approaches.
We carry out evaluations, focus groups and conversations with young people, parents, guardians and teachers.
And, most importantly, we work closely with our beneficiaries in a ‘co-production’ model to understand what support they need.
From 2014 to March 2019, our work in schools was conducted as part of the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme, and was delivered in partnership with Addaction. This pioneering work was made possible with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.
Highlights from the Resilience Programme:
- More than 230,000 young people reached in over 250 schools.
- 95% of pupils said they were now well informed and that they could seek confidential help in the event of being concerned about substance use.
- 92% said they could seek confidential help for peer pressure or bullying.
- 79% said they would be more likely to avoid risky behaviours relating to substance misuse.
- 73% said they had increased confidence to cope with peer pressure.
- 70% said they had increased confidence to manage self-esteem.
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What young people say about our work
The whole prospect of admitting to what goes on seemed scary at first, but the workers made me feel so comfortable talking about the issues. The group sessions helped me see that other people in school were going through similar problems, which made me feel less ashamed about it. the sessions were a perfect release of built-up emotions that I normally struggle to show – Year 11 student
The volunteers that we heard today have completely changed my idea of what an addict is – I now believe that absolutely anybody could become addicted with just a few wrong choices along the way, and that their biggest regret has been not asking for help sooner than they did – Year 11 student
I now understand that the purpose of [the session] was not to portray that drugs can be bad but to visualize that the choices that we decide can determine what will happen next. It is like the saying ‘you are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices’. Year 9 student
[The volunteers] weren’t just saying don’t take drugs, they were telling us about their life story taking drugs and the disadvantages but in the end it is your choice because it’s your life, no-one will be there for you 24/7 choosing what you do. Year 9 student
Without this experience I wouldn’t have known how much drugs affect you and may have gone down the wrong path, but hearing that people overcome it…made me realise how serious it is. Year 9 student
WHAT PEOPLE SAY:
It was good that someone was talking to us who had actually experienced drugs and what they do, instead of just saying ‘drugs are bad, you will die’.” Student, Lincolnshire
The best presentation I have seen from an outside agency in 10 years of being at the school. Neil Kenyon, Director of Careers and Lifelong Learning, Burscough Priory Science Academy, Lancashire