YMCA Sunderland runs a peer-led education project called Mad 4 U that educates young people and local agencies on the dangers of legal highs.
Made up of homeless or formerly homeless young people aged 16 to 25-years-old from within YMCA Sunderland’s services, the Mad 4 U team has already presented to young people within YMCA in the north east as well as Sunderland City Council.
Some of the young people involved in the scheme have experience of using legal highs allowing the group to give first-hand accounts of the issues that arise as well as the ability to more easily access those who are currently using the substances (now known as New Psychoactive Substances).
Jodie Robertson, Project Coordinator, said: “We find that young people will listen more closely to peer supporters like those within Mad 4 U who have experience of what they are going through.
“Our young people have designed the presentations themselves from their own first-hand experience and, in addition to educating professionals at external agencies, they are also able to offer their advice and support to young people within YMCA Sunderland who are using legal highs and are trying to stop.
“Their experience is essential in helping young people overcome their addictions.”
Mad 4 U has been running peer support since 2005. In this time, the team has presented to 1,500 young people at YMCA Sunderland and made 150 external presentations to local agencies and professionals.
The peer support provided by the Mad 4 U project is determined by the young people within the scheme. Previous schemes have focused on educating young people on knife crime.
Read more online about Mad 4 U.
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