Frontline: Addaction Impact

Indira Das-Gupta

What it is: A support centre for 11- to-19-year-olds whose lives have been affected by drug or alcohol abuse

What it does: Offers advice and practical support in a youth-centred environment

How it's funded: £207,000 from Camden and Islington Drug Action Teams

Simon developed a drink problem after being thrown out by his parents on his 16th birthday. He also smokes cannabis. He lives in bed and breakfast accommodation next door to two crack addicts. He has big gaps in his schooling and hasn't taken his GCSEs.

Four months ago, the youth offending team referred Simon (not his real name) to Impact, a support centre for teenagers living in Camden and Islington who have either got a drink or drug problem themselves or whose parents have. Last year the centre received 198 new referrals from sources including youth offending teams and social services. Another 100 are self-referrals.

Impact aims to see everyone within 48 hours and once a young person has been seen, he or she is encouraged to drop in at any time.

Impact tries to make youngsters feel at ease, as Addaction recognised that services catering for adults with serious long-term addictions are often inappropriate and intimidating for teenagers. The centre offers acupuncture, has room to play video games and holds counselling in a room with scented candles.

Simon said: "When I got chucked out, I was completely on my own. I started drinking to take my mind off things and would have a beer before I got out of bed in the morning."

Since Martin Berry, a drug worker at Impact, began working with Simon, he has significantly cut down on his drinking. He said: "I feel like I can trust Martin, he doesn't talk down to me."

Education is a big part of Impact's work and Marina Ogun, a vulnerable young people's worker, regularly gives talks at local schools.

Impact doesn't look at addiction in isolation, but tackles the bigger picture. There are many areas in Simon's life that need addressing. As Martin says: "What Simon needs most of all is someone who cares."

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