Resilience work with young people

Resilience work with young people

“Without this experience I wouldn’t have known how much drugs affect you and may have gone down the wrong path.”

Every year, we meet thousands of young people who feel under a great deal of pressure. They can be struggling with exams or with relationships. Or they may feel the need to look or act in certain ways. These stresses can have a significant impact on both their physical and emotional health.

Some will find positive ways to deal with whatever life throws at them. But we know that others will be more vulnerable, and may use drugs or alcohol to cope.  That’s why we created the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme.

In secondary schools, colleges and community settings, dedicated staff and volunteers explain the risks associated with substance misuse through sharing their own personal stories. Our teams include people in recovery from their own drug or alcohol problems. Or they may have experience of mental health issues, or homelessness.

But rather than only providing information, or using a ‘scare tactics’ approach, our teams work with young people to look at the underlying causes and consequences of substance misuse and risky behaviours, and to hear about their real life concerns and pressures.

That way, students gain a wider, contextual understanding of the issues – as well as learning how to make informed choices about their own lives.

What students say

“I can learn from this message. It will make me think and make different healthier decisions. It was so much better than when someone just stands in front of you and says “don’t take drugs or you’ll die”. That’s not useful to anyone”

What students say

“It was great that someone with actual experience of drugs and alcohol was able to talk to us and tell us about the everyday situations that can go wrong and lead down a negative pathway.”

What students say

“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.”

So far, More than 350,000 young people have been reached in over 450 schools. And after taking part in the Resilience programme:

75% were more confident in making safer decisions about alcohol and drugs.

75% felt more able to manage peer pressure, self-esteem and risky situations

82% said they would seek support if they were concerned about themselves.

88% of parents and carers said that their confidence to have informed conversations with their children had increased.

82% of teachers felt they could identify pupils who were at risk.

How it works

As well as the help we receive from supporters like you, we collaborate with other charities and organisations to ensure that our work in schools understands how young people live their lives, and is informed by the newest approaches. We do this by constantly evaluating what we do, as well as running focus groups and conversations with young people, as well as their parents, guardians and teachers.

A fully evaluated programme

The Amy Winehouse Resilience Programme for Schools has been fully and independently evaluated by a team of researchers, from the University of Bath (UK) and Harvard University (US).

This team (which specialises in developmental psychology, and family and young person addiction) surveyed more than 80,000 young people. For school-based alcohol and drug education programmes, this is one of the largest programmes to have been delivered externally and evaluated through a charitable partnership in England.

You can download a summary of this evaluation, including an overview of methodology and key findings, here.

From 2014 to March 2019, our work in schools was conducted as part of the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme, and delivered in partnership with treatment charity Addaction (now We Are With You). This pioneering work was made possible with funding from the the Big Lottery fund.


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Amy Winehouse Foundation. Registered charity 1143740 (England & Wales). Registered office: 5a Bear Lane, London SE1 0UH

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