Charity speaks about work on substance misuse in Wigan schools

We Are With You has outlined the actions it takes in the borough’s classrooms to help young people make the right decisions about drugs and alcohol.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 7:00 am
We Are With You works on drug and alcohol misuse in schools

The charity spoke after Government figures prompted the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT) to raise concern that local authorities were spending less on the topic and that teachers would have to fill in the gaps in provision.

The UKAT asked for clarification on what was going on in Wigan after the figures showed the council had spent no money on substance misuse services in schools since 2014-15.

The town hall, however, said that was when the service was transferred to We Are With You, formerly known as Addaction, as part of an integrated service helping both adults and children.

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Service manager at With You in Wigan, Sarah Humphreys, said: “When supporting young people around alcohol and drug use, it’s really important to be proactive.

“That’s why With You in Wigan works very closely with secondary schools across the area, providing both group and one-to-one sessions with young people.

“We know that many young people are bound to experiment with drugs and/or alcohol at some point and that the ‘just say no’ approach of the past doesn’t work.

“That’s why we focus on educating young people, giving them all the knowledge to make informed, safe decisions, whilst providing further support to young people that need it.

“During 2019-20 we worked in partnership with 17 schools and two colleges, providing advice and support to over 1,600 pupils.

“To anyone concerned about their own drug or alcohol use, or that of someone they know, our service remains open at the current time, please get in touch.”

UKAT analysis of Government figures found that since 2014-15 direct council spending on substance misuse services for schools had been slashed by more than £1m, a reduction of 39 per cent.

The organisation is concerned that without links like the one Wigan has to We Are With You teaching young people about harmful substances could be another item added to overburdened teachers’ workloads.

The UKAT said it is vital that specific programmes are in place for schools and pupils.

Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment at UKAT, said: “It’s great to hear that Wigan Council is collaborating with a drug and alcohol charity as part of an integrated package of support, but we’d still like to stress the importance of support being provided in the school environment.

“Providing education and support to children while they’re at school removes the onus on the child to seek help outside of their school or home environments themselves.

“It also removes the additional responsibility on our already over-stretched teachers should a child ask for or display signs of needing help with drug and alcohol abuse.”

Anyone concerned about drug or alcohol use by themselves or someone they know can call We Are With You on 01942 827979 or speak anonymously to a trained advisor via the charity’s online webchat at www.wearewithyou.org.uk

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