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Peer Outreach Team We are a diverse group of 40 young people aged between 15 – 25 from different areas around London, who help the GLA engage with young Londoners to find out their opinions and how to help shape services. In addition we also advise but most importantly we act as a VOICE for young people.
How We Help We are responsible for informing young Londoners of their rights and responsibilities and supporting and delivering projects. We actively promote participation across London, working with voluntary & borough based organisations. We deliver; projects, workshops, presentations, Inspections, reports, evaluations and training.
Why is participation important Every Child Matters is a government initiative as a result of a young child’s death. Victoria Climbie. We aim to make every child matters come to life: Being healthy, enjoying & achieving, staying safe, making a positive contribution and economic well being. Every Child Matters is: Giving young Londoners a voice. Encouraging young people to be involved in shaping their communities. To help build long term relationships between young people and adults. The projects we are involved in aim to deliver all of the above mentioned.
Alcohol Awareness Project • The London Assembly asked us to lead on workshops with young people so that we could find out their views on alcohol and its affects on young people. • In order to achieve our aims we knew that we had to engage with the young people in person. • Therefore the alcohol group set up meetings with different groups of young people.
Learning about young peoples exp with alcohol • We worked with a variety of young people from young offenders to young people who have or are being closely affected by alcohol. I.e personally, through family or friends. • Based on our experiences we devised a focus group which included general intros and ice breakers.
Some questions we asked • We asked questions such as: ‘why they thought some young people started to drink heavily?’ • One young person said: • ‘Alcohol is cheap, you can buy a bottle of vodka for 50p in tesco’ • Others said: • Stress from families, friends or school • The body just becomes dependent on alcohol • Peer pressure (some people drink just because their friends do).
More Questions we asked • We also asked ‘what they thought could happen when young people drink too much? • One young lady said: • “When I was younger I use to go home with strangers, nothing ever happened but it could have’ • Others said: • Get scared and paranoid; • Get addicted; • Throwing up • alcohol poisoning
Why the workshops were affective • Gave us the opportunity to listen to young people’s views on the issue of alcohol • Some of the young people were reluctant to talk and get involved, so we had to be persistent and eventually got them involved • Because the groups were divided, we were able to try and get each individuals’ opinion.
Through this, we have… • Worked with the Ambulance and CO14 service’s. • We went out for a 12 hour shift with the Ambulance Service on the booze buses to get a better view of how young people are affected by alcohol and how it is dealt with. For example, we witnessed an incident where a young male got drunk and passed out on the dance floor in a night club & The ambulance service had to examine him and then hospitalise him.
Flyer • We then developed a flyer informing people of how to drink safely
Questionnaires • We also developed questionnaires to get some information on the age ranges of people drinking, how much they were planning on spending, what areas they lived in and more. • This made it easier for us to collate information and also inform people about Alcohol Awareness. • There was a high number people being hospitalised because of alcohol related incidents either themselves or somebody they knew.
What we found out from the questionnaire… • We found out that more than half of the young people we questioned knew that they could get free tap water in a club/bar/restaurant, But feedback showed that less than a quarter were taking advantage of this. • We also found out that an even higher number of people either knew someone or had been taken to hospital themselves for an alcohol related incident.
CO14 • The CO14 are armed police officers who deal with crime in clubs and vice, therefore more likely related to alcohol. • We went out with them to observe how they deal with issues around alcohol related crime in clubs and vice and get some more information on past experiences.
The future is Bright… • We are now in the process of interviewing our Lynk Up Crew members 7-15yrs. We are asking them about their experiences and views with alcohol and how the issues are dealt with in schools. • Interview professionals about what their views are on Alcohol Abuse with Young People. • To Create a documentary in order to use it to run workshops in different boroughs and other youth settings.
What we learnt from the alcohol awareness project The main issues we picked up from the alcohol awareness project where that: • Young people felt that issues regarding alcohol differed in inner and outer London boroughs. • Not all young people abuse alcohol, some do drink responsibly and do not exceed the daily guideline allowance for alcohol intake. • Easy access and cheap cost of alcohol does contribute to the high level of alcohol abuse amongst young people. • Shopkeepers are willing to sell alcohol to underage drinkers without requesting proof of age (especially in the present state of the economy) and they were getting away with it. • Not enough services in school (the only time support is given is when it’s too late and you’ve been excluded).
What we learnt from the alcohol awareness project • Peer pressure is a significant factor in the growing use of alcohol amongst young people. • There are young people who are just experimenting with alcohol and who therefore don’t wish to be labelled as an alcohol abuser. • The media give a lot of coverage on celebrities (drunk and falling out of cars) this constant glamorisation of alcohol abuse by the media, is not sending out a positive message to young people. These mixed messages can essentially undo all the emphasis and campaigns advertising to drink responsibly.
What we learnt from the alcohol awareness project • There are serious safety issues surrounding alcohol abuse, especially for young females who can prove to be vulnerable and more prone to attacks when intoxicated. Measure to be taken need to be discussed to reduce the risk of danger when over the limit. • Long term health can be affected by alcohol • It increases their risk taking I.E sexual activities and general safety. • Young people want to attend support groups, where they can receive both individual time with workers as well as meeting other young people, who have had similar experiences.
Our Views • We enjoy and appreciate being given the opportunity to deliver these projects. We hope the messages from the young people are used to inform policies and strategies surrounding these issues. • What is clear is that there are young people who need help, but there are also young people who just want to be healthy, have fun and occasionally drink. • Young people need to know what is available to them and how to access it without being judged or stereotyped. It’s important that young people should be more involved in the decision making which help shape the services that they use.