Mentor UK has something small on our Christmas list this year. Rather than buying that extra bottle for the festive dinner, we’re asking people to consider donating its price to The Bottle Project, which helps young people gain the knowledge and self-confidence to make healthy decisions with alcohol and other drugs. It’s a simple request to help empower vulnerable young people take a future free from harm into their own hands. But there are some other important reasons to consider giving.
Alcohol is the drug that causes most harm to young people and many drink it for the first time at home. This may seem surprising, but it is usually because parents want to educate their children. Parents want to ensure their children learn healthy habits and there is nothing wrong with that. There is still a lot of debate, however, about whether allowing children to drink at home is a good idea and it remains true that children most often learn their attitudes about alcohol from those closest to them.
Parents and carers are often very good at communicating the social risks of drinking too much and children learn a lot about moderation from seeing family members drink. At the same time, parents and carers may not be taking the opportunity to teach their children about the physical and mental health risks associated with drinking alcohol. They also may not be communicating clearly enough the negative effects that drunken behaviour can have on others.*
Mentor UK’s Bottle Project works with young people who are often loosely attached to school and may have chaotic home lives. They can be marginalised and vulnerable and some may already have been negatively impacted by the substance misuse of others. Workshops provide a space for young people to explore the issues that matter to them while learning how to stay safe around alcohol and other drugs. What’s great is that our young people also get to use the life skills they learn to support others in their community through becoming peer educators. In fact, this is what The Bottle Project does best – it brings young people together and helps them support each other.
At Mentor UK, we think young people are awesome and that with support they can make the right decisions about their health and future. We also believe that when young people come together they can achieve amazing things, especially in support of each other. But, we also know that we cannot ask our young people to do things that we are not willing to do. We cannot ask children to take a future free from the harms of substance misuse into their own hands if we will not do the same. So, this holiday season, we are asking you to show young people that you support them in making healthy choices around alcohol. Please – donate the price of a bottle to The Bottle Project here and help us empower vulnerable young people.
*According to a report comissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation