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 nineteenth 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 100,000 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 focussed 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.
This strategy also fits with the Government’s plans to localise service provision and access to funding. In fact, Hope UK’s Drug Educators are well placed to participate in the ideals of the Big Society, 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 170 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. Our first team was trained in the London borough of Kingston in 2010 and is working in schools, colleges and alongside the Council. A second team in the London borough of Newham completed their training in September 2011 and are taking drug awareness sessions. Because nearly all of the volunteers in Newham come from Black Ethnic Minority backgrounds, they are able to reach young people in these communities. A third team from Watford have also completed their training and are active in the area. This team includes a GP, Dr Kate Carter, who says of Hope UK’s training: “I was very impressed with the training we received from Hope UK. We learnt by example the importance of thorough preparation, organisation and clear communication.” Teams have also been trained in the borough of Bexley and Buckinghamshire.
Part-time Local Project Workers in Scotland, Northamptonshire, Cornwall and the South Coast are stimulating activity from existing Educators and recruiting more volunteers in these areas. Where funding permits, we would like to see all our local Drug Educator teams supported by a one-day-per-week paid Project Worker who can support the volunteers, make contacts with local councils and other statutory and voluntary organisations and access local funding. They are also able to undertake drug awareness sessions at times when volunteers are unavailable.
It costs nearly £1,000 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, etc).
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.