Helping 140 young people in the Blackpool area avoid a life of drugs and crime

More than 140 young people in the Blackpool area will be helped by a project to tackle drug and alcohol misuse and related crime.

The Real-Life Skills project, developed by the charity Mentor UK, is being backed by more than £90,000 of funding from the Home Office as part of the Serious Violence Strategy.

Victoria Atkins MP

Victoria Atkins MP

Youngsters will be helped to build the skills they need to make healthy choices and avoid the pitfalls of drug abuse. The training will be delivered in two schools and two facilities for those outside of mainstream education.

It will be led by project officers, youth workers and trained peer-group facilitators aged 14 to 15.

A total of 144 youngsters aged 12 to 14 will benefit from the three-month programme through weekly hour-long sessions.

The aim is to increase their knowledge around alcohol and drugs, including their effects on mental and physical health.

They will be educated about links between drugs and organised crime.

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said: “I’m delighted to be able to support the excellent work done by Mentor UK as every young person deserves to lead a healthy and productive life away from crime and violence.”

Boris Pomroy, Mentor UK chief executive, said: “We look forward to working with schools and community organisations in Blackpool to support young people in building the knowledge, skills and self-confidence they need to make positive choices and thrive, even in the most challenging situations.”

The project builds on existing work to improve support and opportunities for young people in Blackpool, as one of the government’s 12 Opportunity Areas to drive social mobility.

A key priority in Blackpool is to improve attendance at school, reduce school exclusions and the numbers of young people in pupil referral units, through targeted support for children at risk of exclusion using specialist staff to work with pupils and parents.

While law enforcement is a key element of the Serious Violence Strategy which launched in April, it also looks at the root causes of the problem and how to support young people to lead productive lives away from violence. The overall strategy is supported by £40m of Home Office funding.