Hundreds of North East children and teenagers facing drug and alcohol problems are set to benefit thanks to a £60,000 funding boost.
The University of Sunderland will be working with Together for Children’s Youth Drug and Alcohol Project (YDAP) to ensure vulnerable young people are getting the best access to care in addressing their problems.
Researchers at the University have secured the funding from Alcohol Research UK, allowing them to help YDAP in supporting some of the most at risk teens.
Together for Children’s YDAP team works with young people aged between 11 and 18 who are dealing with alcohol and drug problems, from those who have been experimenting with substances to those with more serious addiction issues.
Public Health experts from the University, in collaboration with Professor Newbury-Birch at Teesside University, will use the money to evaluate and support YDAP in providing the best access to treatment possible.
Work is expected to start on the pioneering partnership in June and continue until August 2019.
John Mooney, Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Sunderland and Public Health Specialist with Sunderland Council, said: “The money will allow us to support the project and look more closely at the services it offers.
“We will be able to assess if earlier intervention is needed and make sure the right people are getting access to the right services.
“Based on the evaluation we do, we will be able to make recommendations not only to YADP but also share our findings with similar projects across the country.
“Ultimately, we want to make sure the young people in Sunderland are able to receive the best access to help they can.”
Between April 2017 and March this year, 275 young people were referred to the Sunderland city centre-based project.
Those seeking support include teenagers with alcohol dependency issues, as well as young people using drugs including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and prescription drugs.
Jim Kennedy, YDAP Manager at Together for Children, said: “Drugs and alcohol are no respecters of your background.
“We offer 1-2-1 counselling, group sessions, we work in the community and in schools.
“Many of the teenage girls we work with are dealing with issues around alcohol, while cannabis tends to be the most prolific substance we are faced with.
“We have worked with a young person aged just 11 on issues around alcohol. Unfortunately, we have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in this region and people are introduced to it from a very young age.
“Working with the University of Sunderland will mean we are getting an independent perspective on the project. Through their evaluation we will be able to make sure our services are reaching the right people at the right time.”