In busy lives what starts from youthful curiosity, peer pressure or just wanting to feel “grown up”, can become a serious problem without anyone else knowing. Once addicted, drugs and alcohol can be quickly followed by poor health, school dropout, crime, risk of self-harm and suicide.
In a spiral of deepening despair, a young person’s pain cries out across family, friends and the whole community. It can seem sometimes like no one is listening and there’s no way out.
Sutton’s Youth Outreach Programme (SYOP) makes hope return. The programme collaborates with young people to develop a language that conveys the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
Engaging young people as early as possible, SYOP’s approach is holistic, working on all aspects of their lives to tackle the root causes of drug and alcohol abuse - poor housing, unemployment, social networks, all come under the microscope.
Once in the programme, young people discover and explore new paths to strive for their life goals and understand what they need to do to achieve them. SYOP is rooted in the local community, and knows where to find young people at risk, be it online or in person.
Working with schools and colleges, the programme provides everything from simple messaging to large groups of young people, to tailored one to one sessions for those most at risk. SYOP partners with local businesses, football teams, youth centres, artists, in fact anybody needed to help build the self-esteem, skills, and confidence to turn young lives around.
A rigorous evaluation of impacts reinforces a continuous cycle of improvement.
Over a twelve month period SYOP worked intensively with 87 young people and reached nearly 200 more with shorter term interventions. These statistics come to life in the example of one young man.
18 years old, a multiple drug and alcohol user staring unemployment and homelessness in the face, SYOP built a trusting relationship that led him into active engagement with coaching and support. He found stable accommodation, a job, and reported a greater ability to manage his life without recourse to drugs and alcohol.