We have received this article from Young Addaction Liverpool.
Addaction is the UK’s largest drug and alcohol support service helping adults and families manage their alcohol and drug misuse, and it has tripled in size since it was set up in 1967.
Young Addaction Liverpool is one of the leading services in the city, specialising in support for young people and they have recently launched a pilot service for 18-25 year olds.
Young Addaction Liverpool has been running a drug awareness campaign to help Liverpool’s young people ‘know more’. Nick Evans, Young Addaction Liverpool Project Manager, said, “Young people have incredible potential and we want to make sure that drugs and alcohol issues don’t limit their futures. Our support workers offer non-judgemental, free and confidential support, to help young people overcome these problems to live independent lives again.
“We also provide support to their families and friends too, as they are often affected by young people’s struggles with drugs or alcohol – and the ‘Know More’ event will be an easy way for people to find out more about all the different support we and our partners can offer.”
Gideon Ben-Tovim, Director of Liverpool Primary Care Trust, supported the campaign, “We are delighted that our Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) is working with Young Addaction Liverpool to offer specialist help for local young people who find themselves in challenging situations.”
Councillor Marilyn Fielding, executive member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said, “People should not be afraid to come forward and ask for help and advice if they or someone they know is involved in drug or alcohol abuse. There are a whole host of organisations funded by the City Council and the PCT which offer non judgemental help, support and assistance – and they all have a successful track record”.
The campaign is a result of pioneering partnerships between Young Addaction Liverpool and other support organisations who are sharing resources and linking together to provide a more joined-up approach to young people in challenging situations. Nick Evans explained, “Young people don’t see problems in their lives as isolated issues – if they are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we find they may also be facing challenges in their education or employment, family relationships or housing situations.
“That’s why we work with other services to provide linked-up support across these issues, so that young people have the skills and resources that they need to live confidently and overcome the situations they experience. We’re developing more integrated, creative ways of working to ensure that less young people fall through the gaps and serve to better connect young people.”
Young Addaction workers already partner closely with a range of services such as Healthy Schools, housing services, and the Youth Offending Team, but understanding that young people live within wider relationships, Young Addaction Liverpool have extended their support to families and carers of service users.
Breaking the Cycle
A unique new partnership approach with Liverpool Sure Start Children’s Centres is one such example. Nick Evans said, “We often see a pattern of drug and alcohol misuse passed on through generations, from grandparents, to parents and to children, so we began looking for ways of supporting parents to break free of their drug or alcohol use, and help prevent their children getting caught in the same struggle.
“Support services are often reluctant to ask drug users the question, ‘Do you have children?’ for fear of being responsible for moving children into care, but we’re now starting to break the generational behavioural patterns of drug misuse and raise aspirations across whole families, by working with young parents”.
Introducing support workers to an environment that parents are already familiar with and feel safe in has been a key part of the success, according to Ruth Haig Ferguson, Liverpool Children’s Centre Co-ordinator, “Our Children’s Centres are familiar community spaces, where many people already feel relaxed and welcome. Parents might come to use the toddler sessions, for example, but might also be able to ask for help with issues like healthy eating, finances, self-esteem, or domestic violence. So for us, offering drugs and alcohol advice and support with Young Addaction seemed a natural extension of the service we are already providing for our communities.
“Experience shows that drug use is a common cycle which traps people in poverty and low aspirations. At our Centre, young parents feel accepted and that really helps to take away the stigma of being drug users, and the anxiety about whether they’ll lose their children into care. They know that they can come to us to ask for help to sort out their own lives, whilst at the same time helping their children to grow up into a future free from drug or alcohol abuse and their often devastating effects.”
Partnerships such as this one mean that Young Addaction Liverpool are seeing real changes in people’s lives, where they can find non-judgemental support and are given the confidence and skills to deal with their personal struggles, and can in turn, pass that confidence on to their children. In the longer term, this kind of working should also help to reduce the numbers of young people needing to access our services.
Nick Evans believes that Young Addaction Liverpool’s partnerships are quite unique in terms of the diversity of support that they are enabled to offer – whether that’s links into sexual health education, bereavement counselling, housing or help with education and training opportunities. He hopes that the campaign will go a long way in showing people how agencies are working together and providing quality support across a full range of issues to bring positive change in their lives.