The Importance of Outreach.
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
I also manage a service which offers young people support around drugs and alcohol support. It has an outreach team which means that we do not see any service users at our office – instead we will go out within the community to meet with young people. My experience has shown that this is often a more effective way to keep service users engaged in treatment. The team is made up of experienced workers who have worked with young people from various backgrounds. We give out advice and information around substance misuse, working with young people through either one to one interventions or group work. The service also keeps in contact with young people through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. By using technology we are able to get the right information out there faster than ever and reach more and more young people.
The service works in partnership with many outside agencies such as the youth offending service (YOS), hospitals, social services and local schools, colleges and youth centres. We regularly run drug and alcohol awareness workshops and assemblies in schools as this is a great way to meet with young people and to educate them about the effects and associated risks of drug misuse. My team and I also do street work whereby we travel to various hotspots in the borough where it has been identified that groups of young people are misusing substances. We try to engage with them and help get them engaged with other services once we have identified specific areas of support that the young person would benefit from.
Technology has grown at an extremely fast pace, which in turn has helped young people gain access to a vast array of information on anything from cooking recipes to what type of new legal highs are available to try. This has encouraged more curiosity. A young person’s secondary school years are when they are generally more likely to experiment with different things, so we feel it is important to provide accurate information in the hope that they will make their own informed decisions. Meeting with young people in various youth provisions such as schools gives us a platform to inform them of what they need to know around drug misuse. Information for teachers
We all have a duty of care to the young people we work with and I feel that through educating and supporting young people around substance misuse, we can often stop further problems arising and prevent the need for punishment. Speaking in schools on a regular basis helps us to educate and keep young people up to date on the current dangers of drug misuse. We can also remind them that we are here to help support them should they wish to engage with the service to seek support. We have all seen the reports in the news about young people and substance misuse and read reports about the increase of children being involved with 'County Lines' (where a young person is involved in delivering drugs to other London boroughs or to different parts of the UK on the behalf of local gangs). This is why it is increasingly more important that we educate young people around the dangers of substance misuse, hold discussions about the consequences of getting caught up with gangs as a result of substance misuse and only through having such discussions and giving young people access to good, quality drugs education can we try to address this growing problem.