Caroline Bridges shares how Loudmouth’s drama projects are educating young people about drug and alcohol issues
This month we will have been running for 21 years, using theatre in education programmes to support schools with their personal, social and health education (PSHE).
At Loudmouth, we use drama to educate children and young people across the UK on how to have safe, healthy and happy lives. We run engaging and relevant programmes on a range of safeguarding and relationship issues – alcohol and substance misuse, puberty, bullying, domestic abuse, sexual health and child sexual exploitation.
Drama is a great way to bring issues to life, and when combined with our workshops, it helps students to discuss alcohol and substance misuse in a safe and inclusive environment.
We have two main packages on alcohol and substance abuse – One 2 Many for secondary schools and colleges, and Alco-Facts for primary schools. Both packages include a theatre performance, workshops, and online lesson plans. We also offer sessions for parents, training for professionals including teachers, health and social care workers, and conference presentations or discussion groups.
One 2 Many is aimed at secondary school, colleges and training providers and combines the usual information on units and risks to health with humour and drama – creating situations that young people can directly relate to. The drama uses a series of short scenes that look at issues including binge drinking, sexual health, drink driving and relationships. The drama highlights the issues and then the accompanying workshop allows young people to unpick what they have seen, explore the choices the characters made and learn where they can go for support and advice.
Feedback for ‘One 2 Many’ has been fantastic. An adolescent sexual health nurse at Sandwell PCT said of the programme, ‘Excellent – [it] engaged with young people, and delivered relevant messages. Kept their attention, entertained and informed… every young person should have this.’
In a recent evaluation report on a tour of Dudley colleges and training providers, 68 per cent of 694 young people stated that before participating in One 2 Many, they felt ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about staying safe around alcohol. This rose to 92 per cent as a result of the session. 87 per cent of teaching staff said the programme had increased their own confidence in delivering work around the issues.
Last year we created a brand new programme on alcohol for primary school aged pupils. Alco-Facts covers basic information about alcohol and drugs (for example, alcohol is a drug, all medicines are drugs but not all drugs are medicines) as well as work on the effect that parents’ or older siblings’ drinking can have on children. The session culminates in a quiz where the groups compete drawing on knowledge they have gained throughout the programme. The sessions are fun and engaging and show a clear increase in children’s knowledge of alcohol and where to go for support. They also help to develop children’s strategies for resisting peer pressure.
Alco-Facts was piloted in Nuneaton and Bedworth primary schools for the Safer Communities Partnership, which has a particularly high priority for tackling alcohol related issues. It is a serious problem locally, as well as nationally, so the partnership and the police and crime commissioner were keen to subsidise and promote the programme, which was fantastically well received by staff and pupils.
‘I learned a lot about alcohol, that it is normal not to drink and that there are ways to tell someone that you don’t want to drink. Thank you for coming to our school,’ said one pupil of the programme.
Due to the success of the pilot, Alco-Facts is being rolled out in North Warwickshire, funded by its borough council. It has also become one of Loudmouth’s permanently available resources and we look forward to bringing it to many more schools in the years to come.
Caroline Bridges is Business Growth Manager at Loudmouth
Loudmouth’s programmes are available all year round – for more information, visit www.loudmouth.co.uk