Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa, has spoken of the importance of a new service raising awareness of drug and alcohol use across the county’s schools.
The commissioner attended Eckington School where he spoke to to Year 11, 12 and 13 pupils as part of an engagement event.
The event was hosted by CGL 1625 Outreach, which is a free and confidential service, joint-funded by the commissioner and Derbyshire County Council. The service works with young people aged 16 to 25 to prevent drug and alcohol dependency and promote healthy lifestyle choices.
Mr Dhindsa said: “Young people do not always recognise that they are vulnerable and one of the key strengths of this service is the way it encourages young people to look more closely at their lives and decision-making and make changes when necessary.”
Since its launch in September 2018, the service has delivered advice and information to 1,439 young people.
The service, which has been allocated £150,000 annually for the next three years from the commissioner, has been working with pupils and staff at Eckington School over the past seven months, providing advice and information about drugs, alcohol and sexual health.
Derbyshire County Council gives the project £25,000 a year and has also contributed £50,000 towards a vehicle for outreach sessions.
Councillor Carol Hart, the county council's cabinet member for health and communities, said: "We are delighted to be supporting this innovative service, which aims to reduce the harm caused to young people as a result of drug or alcohol use.
"Importantly, rather than being based in a building, the service goes out in to communities to speak to young people to offer support and advice."
Lauren Stewart, 1625 Outreach project coordinator, said: "Our work with Eckington School has been ongoing since October, and this is our third visit to the school providing information and advice to sixth form and year 11 students about drugs, alcohol, sexual health, social media, and keeping safe.
"Our interactive workshops and "drop ins" aim to provide young people with non-judgemental, fact-based interventions, to support them in building resilience and making more informed life choices. In addition to our work with schools, colleges and universities, we also provide support within communities to young people, by providing assertive outreach in areas of concern.
"Recently we have been working within Chesterfield and Buxton town centres working directly with young people from the area. Additionally, we have been providing targeted advice to support the night time economy alongside Derbyshire Police."
And Mick de Carteret, service manager of Derbyshire CGL and 1625 Outreach, said: "It is thanks to a very forward-thinking approach from both Derbyshire County Council, Public Health and the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner that we are able to provide such a unique and ground breaking service.
"To my knowledge, this is the only service of its kind in the whole of Britain. CGL are proud to have been asked to deliver this service and hope that it will provide a template for similar work throughout the country."