The father of Amy Winehouse has warned that a generation of children are being put at risk by “woefully underfunded” drug and alcohol education.
Mitch Winehouse said there was a “worrying knowledge gap” about substance misuse among young people as he prepared to join forces with comic Russell Brand to launch a new education programme for schools.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience Programme will initially be rolled out to 50 secondary schools across England and will provide a free, confidential phone and online service for young people, supported by Childline.
Singer Amy died in July 2011 from accidental alcohol poisoning at the age of 27. “Everyone wants their kids to make informed choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol,” Winehouse said. “But it’s such a complicated subject to understand, especially when you look at all the new legal highs that have appeared over the past few years, that it’s no wonder that parents feel in the dark about what to do.
“Drugs education in schools is woefully underfunded and has been far too inconsistent. That’s if it happens at all. When it does, it doesn’t look at why people turn to drugs or drink. It doesn’t happen with any kind of regularity. And it doesn’t help teachers and parents to support the kids who really need it. That really needs to change.
“Our new secondary schools programme will give everyone - including parents, teachers and the pupils themselves - the skills and knowledge they need. That’s something that will really help our young people.”
Brand, who has battled drug problems in the past, is due to attend the launch of the schools programme at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, in central London, tomorrow.
The charity Addaction, which helped to develop the scheme, said it had seen an almost 25% rise in the number of young people seeking help for drug and alcohol problems in the last five years.
Many are misusing new substances such as the former legal high mephedrone, with some users injecting the drug, the charity said.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation has highlighted a poll by ComRes of than 4,000 adults which found four in five parents with children at school felt drug and alcohol abuse among young people was a serious problem in the UK. Only 33% believed that schools provide adequate education to children and young people around drugs and alcohol, while the same percentage felt the government was doing enough to tackle underage drinking and illegal drug use.