A new ‘one stop shop’ drop-in service, providing information, support and education to those young people and their families affected or concerned by alcohol and drug misuse has opened its doors in Dromore.
The service entitled ‘Info-station’ has been funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and is managed by REACT (Reaching Everyone and Creating Trust). Four such pilot centres have been set up across Northern Ireland.
The centre is open each Wednesday afternoon for ‘drop in’ sessions from 3pm - 6pm and 6pm - 10pm for ‘drop-in’ and project work, from 3 - 6 pm on Friday for ‘drop-in’ and also 2pm - 6pm on Saturday. The centre is open to all young people living in the Dromore or hinterland areas.
Launching the new service today Craig Cook, Director of REACT explained, “This service and facility has been designed with the needs of young people being of primary importance. We have created an informal and confidential drop-in facility where young people can relax and have access to a wide range of information about health related issues, particularly alcohol and drug misuse. This will be a neutral, shared facility accessible to all of the community in Dromore.
“The Info-station at Dromore will employ two frontline members of staff who are very well trained and experienced in health and youth work. They will act as a focal point of contact for the young people and provide a referral ‘gateway’ to a wide range of health service providers from both the statutory and voluntary/community sectors.”
Craig continued: “As substance use and misuse is only one of the many issues that young people face, the service will also focus on addressing other issues such as, suicide and self-harm, mental health and wellbeing, sexual health, relationship issues and coping with school and employment.”
Attending the launch Leo Foy, Drug and Alcohol Coordinator with the PHA (Southern Office) said: “The Agency is the lead partner for a range of initiatives currently being delivered in local communities across Northern Ireland aimed at tackling the misuse of alcohol and drugs. These new centres have been established following identified needs in local communities and will provide young people with access to information in a relaxed and informal environment.
“An analysis of the Young People’s Behaviour and Attitudes Survey 2007 (YPBAS), carried out by Queen’s University, echoes the need for a more holistic approach in delivering services to young people. It clearly shows that young people face a range of pressures and engage in a range of risk taking behaviours,” he said.
The YPBAS is a longitudinal study with findings released every two to four years and has a sample size of approximately 5,000 pupils.
In 2007, results highlighted that just over half of pupils surveyed (54%) have taken an alcoholic drink. Of those who have had an alcoholic drink, over three quarters (76%) were aged 13 or under when they had their first drink.
The survey also showed that just under a quarter (24%) of pupils have been offered drugs (excluding solvents) on at least one occasion, of which just less than half (49%) have used or tried drugs at sometime. In addition, 8% of pupils have inhaled solvents and 9% of pupils have had sexual intercourse, with only 83% of this figure using contraception.
Leo added: “Whilst these results show a clear need for the provision of alcohol and drugs services to young people in Northern Ireland, the YPBAS also highlights the need for young people to be provided with a range of services addressing such issues as mental health and wellbeing, coping with school and sexual health. The new Info-station opened today will help to provide the much needed information and support required for the young people, on a confidential nature, living in this area.”
If you are a young person living in the Dromore or hinterland areas, and are affected by drugs or alcohol, drop into the centre for help and support or telephone (028) 4062 8829 for more information.
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Notes to Editors
• Overall action to address the harm related to alcohol and drug misuse in Northern Ireland is taken forward through the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs which is available at http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/nsdad-finalversion-may06.pdf.
• YPBAS, conducted Queen’s University in Belfast, is a longitudinal study that has been ongoing since 2002. (Research undertaken by Patrick McCrystal et al, Institute of Child Care Research, Queen’s University Belfast, 5a Lennoxvale, Belfast BT9 5BY, Tel (028) 9027 4613.