One of the key findings from our work delivering alcohol based services in HM YOI Polmont, as part of our Breaking Out project, is that there seems to be little focus on personal responsibility. No matter how many interventions you provide, the young people must want to make positive changes in order for any benefit to develop.
The alcohol programmes we run help young offenders understand alcohol as a drug, how that drug can affect their bodies, moods and behaviour.Gez Lawson, Project Manager
Our new course – titled by the young people involved as ‘Breaking Bad’ – aims to help create a culture of change by allowing groups to examine their relationship with alcohol in a wider context, how it has affected their own lives and the lives of their peers, families and the wider community.
Individualised goal or development plans will enable participants to take responsibility for identifying areas of development. This may include education, health and wellbeing, understanding relationships, improving communication skills and understanding their own relationship with alcohol and how this impacts on their lives.
Breaking Bad is currently being piloted with a group of five young offenders. Three of these individuals join from having completed Breaking Out’s initial five week programme; one has been involved in the project as a peer educator for the past 18 months; and one was a peer educator for six months before being liberated last year, and has now recently returned to custody.
We are hoping that this group will enable us to develop a programme that will provide the kind of support that will enable young offenders to develop a personalised development plan which will help them to set goals and develop skills that will support desistance from alcohol based offending behaviour and promote active citizenship on their return to the community.
“The alcohol programmes we run help young offenders understand alcohol as a drug, how that drug can affect their bodies, moods and behaviour,” says Project Manager, Gez Lawson.
“This type of intervention helps young people develop an understanding of how some basic harm reduction techniques can be applied to their own lives that will reduce the problematic or risky behaviour caused by alcohol misuse. We want to take this a stage further and build on this knowledge by creating a wider understanding of alcohol in a personalised context.
“It’s still early stages but over the coming months we hope to continue to develop the course using consultation and feedback from participants during the course and as they progress into the community. Consultation through care providers will also allow the course to develop a support framework that benefits service providers and service users alike.”