‘Support not punishment’ the key to tackling Derry’s drug problem - urges Opportunity Youth

Opportunity Youth, which provides drug and alcohol support services to young people across Northern Ireland, adult offenders and families in the community, has said the scourge of drug misuse can only be tackled through dedicated professional help and not punishment attacks.

Chief executive Anne-Marie McClure said in the wake of recent shootings of young people in Derry, worried parents or other members of the community should be aware of the support and services available in the North West area.

She said: “Drugs misuse amongst young people is a growing concern not just in Derry but throughout the country.

“At Opportunity Youth we deal with hundreds of young people and their families as we attempt to tackle this problem and put in place support mechanisms to promote recovery and positive lifestyle choices.

“Interventions such as group work, counselling and family support will ultimately make a difference to the lives of young people not the barrel of a gun or other barbaric practices.

“Parents should not be put in a position where they are taking their children to be shot by appointment.

“They should be taking their young people for appointments at services such as Opportunity Youth’s DAISY (Drug and Alcohol Intervention Service for Youth) project.

“Our DAISY service offers bespoke programmes which address not only the core needs of young people affected by drugs and alcohol misuse but specific family-focussed support and help.

“Drug misuse can ruin lives, devastate families and destroy communities but help is out there.

“I would appeal to anyone who may be affected by these issues to seek out professional support which will always be more effective than punishment attacks in bringing about long-term change.”

Opportunity Youth is based across eight sites in Northern Ireland including offices in the Ballinska Business Park in Springtown, Derry and Magilligan Prison, near Limavady.

Opportunity Youth’s DAISY West project is a confidential support service for young people who are using or at risk of using drugs or alcohol delivered in partnership with ASCERT and funded by the Public Health Agency.

The scheme which operates across the Western Health and Social Care Trust area offers strong family intervention and support services which produces specific programmes designed to help young people taking into consideration their family needs too.

Services offered include – keywork including mentoring, counselling, family support and family systemic therapy.

Referrals can be made by contacting members of the DAISY team either in Derry on 02871 371162 or any Opportunity Youth office.