Teachers and Youth Workers urged to use new resources to raise awareness of drugs and alcohol isssues


Teachers, tutors and youth workers are being urged to take advantage of new resources created by a Cumbrian charity aimed at raising awareness of drug and alcohol issues among young people.

“We are calling on teachers and youth workers to get in touch with us if they are struggling to create sessions for Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE), Citizenship or Tutorials classes,” said Leigh Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS).

“Normally we deliver our awareness sessions face to face. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is not possible at the moment, so we have digitised them and created Power Point presentations that can be delivered by teachers or tutors in schools and colleges as part of remote learning sessions, via Zoom or Teams.”

The charity has created a digital drugs and alcohol awareness session aimed specifically at secondary school pupils. For sixth form and further education students and for apprentices there are three other digital sessions available – on alcohol; smoking and vaping; and drugs.

“They focus on educating young people how to keep themselves and others safe, how to recognise the effects of substances and about the support services that are there to help them or their family,” said Ms Williams.

If teachers, tutors or youth workers would like to get hold of the CADAS digital resources, they should ring 0300 111 4002 or 07745 266555.

CADAS works with children and adults, with people in the midst of addiction and dependency and those in recovery and with those individuals’ parents, carers and other family members.

It also does a huge amount of preventative work by running education and awareness sessions to increase the knowledge of professionals, such as teachers, social workers and the police, about substances that can become addictive and harmful to health.

The charity has just appointed a new senior manager to run its services in the north and west of Cumbria.

Emma Spedding, 37, of Carlisle, manages CADAS’s operations in areas like Carlisle, Whitehaven, Workington, Egremont, Cleator Moor, Maryport, Wigton and Cockermouth.

Ms Spedding has worked in the voluntary sector for 15 years, doing youth and community work in a variety of rural community centres, latterly at Brampton Community Centre, north east of Carlisle.

She has a keen interest in workplace development and trained as a tutor and assessor in youth and community work.

She said CADAS had always interested her, ever since hearing a presentation about its work while she was still at school.

In her new role, Ms Spedding has also taken countywide responsibility for CADAS’s young people’s services, including its support for young people aged up to 18 with a substance use dependency and for the educational work the charity does in schools, colleges and youth groups.

Emma said: “My vision is to completely embrace the new technologies at our fingertips to enhance our services so we can reach as many people as possible.

The geography in Cumbria is a barrier and the digital transformation gives us a massive opportunity to reach so many more people. We also want to get back to face-to-face sessions when it is safe to do so because people are really missing that contact.”

She said another priority was to recruit more volunteers to help run the charity’s services.

Ms Williams said CADAS was delighted and excited to have Ms Spedding join the team, adding: “She bring loads of youth and community experience to the role, which means she was the perfect candidate to lead on our delivery of services to the young people of the county.”

And she added: “When mental health is poor, people can turn to drugs and alcohol. The pandemic is only escalating poor mental health among some young people so we know that having strong and solid drug and alcohol preventative education and proactive support when it is needed is key for Cumbria over the next few years.”

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