“National Drug Education Forum Established to Promote Excellence and Support for Youth Education on Substance Abuse”

Drug Education Forum Launches to Improve Access to Evidence-Based Drug Education for Young People Across the UK

London, UK – Today (February 20th, 2024), the Drug Education Forum (DEF) officially launches to bring together drug education providers, educators, and practitioners from across the UK. This initiative, led by the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs (DSM) Foundation, aims to uphold evidence-based standards, share best practice, and provide a voice for the sector. The launch was marked by the release of a video at the DSM Foundation’s tenth-anniversary event in Croydon, highlighting the importance of drug education.

The DEF’s mission is to ensure that all young people have access to high-quality, evidence-based drug education and to advocate for its inclusion as an essential part of any response to preventing drug-related harm. The forum is open to anyone working in this field, as well as stakeholders, and offers membership benefits such as access to expert speakers, the latest evidence and research, examples of best practice, and opportunities to connect with others in the sector.

Leading the DEF is a steering committee chaired by Fiona Spargo-Mabbs (DSM Foundation) and comprising of Emma Crawshaw (Crew 2000), Nick Hickmott (We Are With You), Charlotte Gordon (KIP Education), Ivan Ezquerra-Romano (Substancy), Helena Conibear (Talk About Trust) Paul North (Volteface), and Arda Ozbuckuku (Neurosight). The committee will provide expertise and oversight, while a group of key advisors, including Prof Harry Sumnall, Prof Adam Winstock, Jason Kew, and Jamila Boughelaf, will offer strategic insights and guidance.

The DEF’s website will go live today, and an online webinar on March 20th, 2024, will officially launch the forum. The event will feature keynote speaker Prof Harry Sumnall from Liverpool John Moores University School of Psychology, a leading expert in young people’s drug use and prevention interventions. Attendees can also expect short spotlights on different models of drug education and harm reduction from across the UK, as well as an opportunity to ask questions, share best practice, and plan the future development of the DEF.

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs OBE, Director and Founder of the DSM Foundation, shared her excitement about the launch, stating, “We’re really excited to be launching this national community of practitioners and providers, committed to reducing the harm from drugs through effective, evidence-based drug education and harm reduction for all our young people.” She emphasized the importance of working together to make a difference and equip young people with the necessary skills to make safe choices about drugs.

Jason Kew, Senior Practice Lead at The Centre for Justice Innovation and former Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, also emphasized the importance of education in preventing drug use. He stated, “Education is prevention. Drug use occurs throughout every corner of society, and it is crucial to enable access to the highest quality, evidence, and effective drug awareness and education for everyone who may need it.”

Professor Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Liverpool John Moores University, also highlighted the need for evidence-based drug education, stating, “Evidence-based, ethical, and supportive drugs education helps to provide young people with the skills to make healthier and safer decisions, reduce risks of harms from drug use, and develop the confidence to seek help for themselves or their friends if they need it.” He welcomed the launch of the DEF, which will help ensure that all young people receive the high-quality drug education they deserve.

For more information about the DEF and to sign up, please visit https://www.drugeducationforum.org.uk.

Information for editors:

Media enquiries about this press release or the work of the DSM Foundation should be sent to media@drugeducationforum.org.uk.

Social media: @drugeducationforum on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and @drugedforum on X.

The DEF aims to strengthen the sector by upholding evidence-based standards and practices, providing regular briefings and updates, disseminating current information and research, and creating opportunities to strengthen evidence-based drug education through evaluation and research. It also aims to provide a voice for the sector by advocating for access to excellent, evidence-based drug education for all young people in the UK, engaging with key stakeholders, and responding to relevant social, legislative, and policy changes.

The Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation is a drug and alcohol education charity founded in January 2014 by Tim and Fiona Spargo-Mabbs in response to the death of their 16-year-old son Daniel, who had taken ecstasy. The charity’s aim is to support young people in making safe choices and reducing harm by increasing their understanding of the effects and risks of drugs and alcohol and improving their life skills and resilience.

The DSM Foundation has developed an evidence-based, evaluated drug and alcohol

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