The Government’s Drug Strategy, published late in 2010, says: “All young people need high quality drug and alcohol education so they have a thorough knowledge of their effects and harms and have the skills and confidence to choose not to use drugs and alcohol.” This is exactly what Hope UK’s voluntary Drug Educators provide.
Our Voluntary Drug Educator Training Programme is now in its twenty-third year. Suitable volunteers are trained with an Open College Network accredited course comprised of 120 hours of distance learning and 3 practical training weekends which are compulsory. Last year, Hope UK’s Drug Educators again reached about 60,000 children and young people, both directly and indirectly by teaching parents, youth and family workers to carry out their own drug prevention work.
Since 2009, we have focused our efforts on recruiting and training several Educators at a time who all live in the same area. Volunteers form strong bonds of friendship during the three practical training weekends and this gives them the support and encouragement that comes with being part of a team and helps them to fully utilise their training. But we continue to train anyone who expresses an interest and meets the criteria.
This strategy also fits with the Government’s plans to localise service provision and access to funding. Hope UK’s Drug Educators are stepping into the gap left by cuts to public services and ensuring that children, young people and those with responsibility for them continue to receive the knowledge and skills they need to avoid drug and alcohol-related harm.
We currently have 140 volunteers throughout the UK (not all of them in teams) and our ultimate goal is to have teams of Drug Educators in communities throughout the country.
During the past couple of years, we have trained 36 of our voluntary Drug Educators to lead an 8-session course for youth groups called ‘Drugs, Sex and You‘. This course not only delivers interactive drug, alcohol and sexual health education, it also helps young people acquire the social and life skills they need to become successful adults. This is part of a long-term strategy to develop ongoing relationships with young people that will not only help them achieve their potential, but also enable them to become positive peer influencers, thus extending our reach. Generation Hope is the youth branch of Hope UK that will help with this development and also advise our Trustees in matters relating to young people.
It costs nearly £1,250 to train one volunteer (which takes about six months) and around £450 pa per volunteer to support them thereafter. Support costs include an annual updating conference, travel expenses and educational materials to support the interactive sessions our Educators provide (eg, ‘beer goggles’, drug sample kits, literature).
Hope UK is a registered charity (England & Wales registration no: 1044475; Scotland registration no: SC040550) and a company limited by guarantee (No: 3022470).
Please contact the Business Manager, Marolin Watson, if you would like further information about our work.