Real-Life Skills

Giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions around alcohol and other drugs


Location: Blackpool, England
Demographic: young people aged 12-14
Delivery setting: schools; PRUs; alternative educational provision; youth groups
Years active: 2019 –
Contact email:
Keywords: alcohol; drugs; education; prevention; skills-based; peer-led

Real-Life Skills (RLS) is an innovative substance misuse education programme for young people aged 12-14, developed and delivered by Mentor UK. It is appropriate for schools, Pupil Referral Units (PRUs), alternative educational provision and youth groups. RLS draws on the long experience Mentor has delivering substance misuse education with young people and training young people as peer educators in settings such as schools, youth groups and in youth custody. The programme brings together the best of evidence-based prevention knowledge and practice with skills-based learning.

The RLS programme uses interactive learning to empower young people as they build self-confidence, risk-awareness and an understanding of how to navigate difficult emotional responses to issues around alcohol and other drugs. These skills are especially important for young people who are vulnerable due to risk factors including poverty, disengagement from education or crime in their environment. RLS also helps young people understand the effects of substance use on physical and mental health and the connections that exist between drugs, anti-social behaviour and organised crime. It is designed to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions and take a future free from harm into their own hands.

Mentor UK’s RLS pilot got off to a running start in Blackpool in January 2019. Over the course of three months, RLS will deliver its programme to over 140 young people in a variety of settings, including schools, alternative educational provision, PRUs and youth groups in Blackpool. The programme will also deliver ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions with educational and youth support staff, aimed at developing an easy to use tool-kit for effective substance misuse education. This will contribute to the professional development of staff working with young people in these settings and allow them to implement sustainable alcohol and drug education for the future.

To find out more about Real-Life Skills, please contact Debra Anderson at:, or by phone at: 0131-334-8512 or 07738865577