- Only a third of parents believe government doing enough to prevent addiction issues.
- New Amy Winehouse Foundation secondary schools programme to focus on emotional resilience of pupils, and root causes of drug and alcohol problems
- Foundation set up in late singer’s memory joins forces with treatment charity Addaction
Amy Winehouse’s father has demanded a change in the way children are taught about drugs and alcohol, claiming that current provision in schools is ‘not fit for purpose’.
Such education is ‘either inconsistent or non-existent’ and ‘misunderstands the reasons people turn to drink and drugs in the first place’ says Mitch Winehouse.
His words came at the launch of a new programme to supports and informs pupils, parents and teachers on drug and alcohol issues: The Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme – The drug and alcohol awareness programme for schools has been set up in conjunction with respected treatment charity Addaction, and is in direct response to what Mr Winehouse calls ‘the failings of the current system’.
The programme is being launched at London’s first ever ‘Recovery Festival’, which takes place at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster on March 12th and 13th.
To further support Mr. Winehouse’s claims, the Amy Winehouse Foundation and Addaction polled over 4000 people in the UK on drug and alcohol issues]. The survey found that:
- 84 per cent of respondents with school aged children (5-15yrs) believe that drugs and alcohol are a serious problem.
- Only 33 per cent of respondents believed that schools provide adequate education to children and young people around drugs and alcohol.
- Only 33 per cent of respondents believe the government is doing enough to tackle underage drinking and illegal drug use.
Mr Winehouse says:
‘Things just don’t add up. The government believes that prevention is far better than cure when it comes to addiction, but funding for preventative education has dropped by 87 per cent in just two years. Parents are hugely concerned about the problems, but drug and alcohol education isn’t on the national curriculum. And in the few areas of the UK that do have programmes, these only happen once or twice a year and don’t include any teacher training, parent engagement or on-going student support.
‘It was in direct response to these problems that we set up our new programme. We believe it will effectively change drug and alcohol education in this country for the better’.
The Foundation’s Resilience programme will initially be rolled out in ten different locations across England and will be delivered by people who are already in recovery. This team will be fully trained, accredited and supported by professional workers in the field. Through the programme, they will share their own experiences as recovering addicts to give young people a better understanding of drug and alcohol misuse. These ‘share’ sessions focus on self-esteem, risky behaviour and peer pressure and allow young people to explore the issues in a non-judgmental, effective and educational way.
As a result, it will:
- Help to reduce substance misuse and anti-social behaviour in local communities.
- Increase young people’s awareness and knowledge regarding drugs and alcohol, as well as anti-social behaviour and offending.
- Increase young people’s levels of resilience, self esteem and resistance to peer pressure.
- Increase knowledge about drug and alcohol issues, as well as of accessing specialist support and treatment, among pupils, teachers and parents.
- Offer a free, confidential phone and online service for children and young people across the UK (With support from Childline)
In addition, it will increase parents’ knowledge about the help that is on offer, and what support is available to both adults and young people. These evening sessions also help parents to hold informed and confident conversations about drug and alcohol issues with their children.
Also, the programme trains teachers to better identify students at risk of substance misuse and to help to better support those who need it. This is provided through Addaction’s successful Skills 4 Change. Since beginning in 2011, 86% of enrolled students have stated that they are coping better at school, because of Skills 4 Change, and 74% of students stating that they are coping better at home because of the help they have received.
In sites where Addaction do not deliver young peoples services the Amy Winehouse Foundation will engage with local treatment services to provide the teacher training and targeted intervention work.
Addaction’s Chief Executive Simon Antrobus says that, over the past five years, the charity has seen a 25 per cent increase in the number of young people seeking help for drug and alcohol problems. He says:
‘Every day at Addaction, we see people who’ve turned to drugs or drink to help deal with a personal problem. That’s why this new programme is so important. It doesn’t ‘just say no’ – it also looks at ‘why’.
‘It focuses on underlying issues such as self-esteem, or at issues within the family – and it gives young people the confidence to deal with these problems without turning to drugs or alcohol in the first place. By doing so it’s teaching them some of the most important skills they’ll ever learn in life’.
Mr Winehouse says:
‘Amy always had a lot of time for young people and wanted to help them whenever she could.
‘Through the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme we will be able to help thousands of young people – and Amy would have been very proud of that.’
For more information on the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme, visit http://www.amywinehousefoundation.org/resilience-programme-for-schools