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Effective Interventions Unit - Working with young people: A profile of projects funded by the Partnership Drugs Initiative


Working with young people: A profile of projects funded by the Partnership Drugs Initiative

Aberdeenshire: Barnardo's Youth Drug Initiative
  • Project aims and objectives

The aim of the project is to work with individual children aged 12-16 who have started using drugs, to make them better aware of the consequences of drug taking and to eventually stop using drugs. The project also provides social activities designed to demonstrate alternative ways of spending time.

The project also works with groups of between 6-10 children aged 12-16 in a school setting, covering the same kinds of themes as the individual sessions.

  • Project Start Date

January 2002

  • Staffing

The project has a total of four staff. None of these staff have previously worked in drug services, but all had received appropriate training and all had previously worked in a caring profession.

  • Geographical coverage

The project is based in Peterhead and aims to serve the whole of the Aberdeenshire area, but in practice much of its work has been in the northern part of the authority where the project is based.

  • Setting for project work

Work usually takes place at the client's home or at school but local clients could also visit the base office.

  • Characteristics of client group

Children using drugs or at risk of using drugs.

  • Client profile

As of 31 July 2003 there had been 44 referrals to the individual programme since it began taking clients in March 2002. In the same period the group work had made contact with 53 individuals.

The age profile of the clients on the individual programme is illustrated in Figure 12 below:-

Figure 12


The gender profile of the clients is as follows:-





Eighteen of the clients are deemed to have had their cases successfully closed, while ten are currently in contact with the project and one is being held until further notice. Five were regarded as unsuccessful, four withdrew, while no further action was taken in respect of six.

The age profile of the clients on the group programme, which has been undertaken in three schools, is illustrated in Figure 13.

Figure 13


The gender profile is as follows:-





Information on the ethnic background of clients is not available.

  • Client assessment and data collection

For children involved in individual work, on completion of a 12 session programme, an assessment of drug use and behaviour is undertaken and compared with the results of a similar assessment taken at the onset of the programme. This assessment tries to identify what stage (chaos, regularisation, stabilisation or socialisation) a client is at on a range of behavioural routines (such as drug use, daily routines, health, etc.). The programme thus tries to secure improvement in a range of relevant areas of a person's life rather than just a commitment to ending drug use.

  • Intervention details

The work with individual children initially comprises a programme of 12 sessions that usually take place either at home, school or project base, interspersed with social activities. These sessions aim to make clients better aware of the consequences of drug taking and, as a result, encourage them to end their drug taking. The programme can thus be characterised as a cognitive behavioural approach. These sessions are supplemented by the provision of social activities that are designed to demonstrate alternative ways of spending time.

Where appropriate, clients may move on to a second 24 session programme that uses such techniques as the Wheel of Change (four clients at time of project visit). Most clients who complete the programme are in contact with the project for 3-4 months. While the programme does not regularly involve parents, where there was interest they were informed and might occasionally attend an individual session.

The group work in schools usually takes place in a guidance department or a unit for children with social, educational or behavioural difficulties. It comprises six sessions that cover much the same material as the individual sessions. Participants are identified by teachers though parents are advised that the groups are to take place. Teachers themselves are always present at the sessions, while there is also a linked one-off in-service session and a debrief with the teacher after each session. These group sessions can identify individuals who are referred to the individual programme.

  • Referrals

The pattern of referrals for individual programme is illustrated in Figure 14.

Figure 14