Street Talk

Location: London
Demographic: vulnerable young people aged 10-19
Delivery setting: communities
Years active: 2012 – 2012
Contact email:
Keywords: alcohol and drug education; youth engagement; London


About the project

Street Talk was a pioneering national partnership between Mentor and Addaction, funded by the Home Office.

Working with local youth work projects across five communities we helped young people rethink risky behaviour around alcohol and drugs. Street Talk is on one level a 15-20 minute conversation (using the evidence-based method of brief interventions) but it can also be a turning point in young people’s lives.

Over an intensive six-month period, Street Talk trained more than 150 youth workers across England who then screened 2,196 young people, and delivered over 800 interventions aiming to reduce alcohol and drug misuse and related anti-social behaviour.

Use of technology

Street Talk used an innovative data capture method – a specially designed Android app integrating screening, evaluation and intervention into one package.

Young people were very enthusiastic about this technology and voluntary uptake in the evaluation significantly increased. 100% of eligible people engaged in the intervention (compared to 50% in a similar paper-based interventions), and only 13% dropped out of the post-intervention evaluation. The Street Talk model of using an app instead of paper copies revolutionises the evaluation methods possible with the click of a button.

More than a third of the young people screened were found to be suitable candidates for Street Talk – at medium, high or severe risk. One in five was at severe risk.

Street Talk was easy for us to do because we already had a relationship with young people and we could add Street Talk into our work without any problems.
Not all of the young people we work with were misusing substances but for many their parents were. That makes young people more vulnerable to substance misuse down the line so early intervention is a very good thing.
We found the app worked really well. This is the medium young people are used to. Going forward, we can see ways in which Street Talk could be developed. It should definitely be taken forward, it’s so useful and effective.

Zak Darwood, P3 Project


The evaluation of the project, which was carried out independently, found that of those who received the intervention, more than two thirds said their knowledge (72%) and confidence (71%) in making informed decisions about safer levels and methods of alcohol and drug use had increased.

Perhaps more importantly, the overwhelming majority demonstrated a positive intention to change their behaviour:

  • 70% agreed “I am confident that I know more about drugs and alcohol and can use them more safely in the future.”
  • 81% agreed “I know that the decision to take action and use drugs and alcohol more safely is up to me.”
  • 74% agreed “If I use, I fully intend to use drugs and alcohol more safely in the future.”

Other key outcomes were:

  • Proof that the innovative use of Smart Phone technology (an Android App) is a successful way to collect important and robust data from young people.
  • A high level of success in capacity building for our 20 local partner organisations, specifically in their ability and confidence to identify and address substance misuse issues with young people.


Street Talk was a short term project, funded with the generous support of the Home Office, to test and validate our belief that early intervention can be an important component in meeting the needs of communities, and can have a positive impact in the lives of young people.

Mentor is now seeking funding to continue this important work. Please contact our Director of Programmes at if you can help or would like to discuss this project.

It was great to be part of Street Talk. It means we could continue to work with the children who are referred to us and support them in additional ways. They are not drug users but many have parents that are. This is a known risk factor so being trained to work around alcohol and drug misuse with young people proactively, at an early age, was very appealing.
Now we know what we’re talking about regarding drug education and we know we need to catch young people from a much earlier age, we have the training and are training internally. Street Talk is a fantastic addition to our work.

Tanya Samuel MBE, CEO Concrete Canvas Arts